The East Village, many Vancouverites may be wondering why that sounds so familiar. Well that is because it refers to the the name of a Manhattan neighbourhood that borders The Lower East Side and Greenwhich Village. Now Vancouver is getting its very own “East Village” as the commercial district formerly known as Hastings-Sunrise is rebranding itself by the same label as the iconic NYC neighbourhood.
The East Village neighbourhood spans Hastings St. from Commercial Drive to Renfrew. In sum it will be 12 blocks long. The business association wants remove the stigma that is attached to East Hastings and at the same time welcome new residents and visitors to one of Vancouver’s finest changing neighbourhoods.
We’ve seen this attempted before in Vancouver as neighbourhoods tried to rebrand themselves in the face of gentrification. In the lead up to the Olympics realtors tried to re-brand Mount Pleasant as SoMa (South Main), again another “rip-off” of New York’s SoHo neighbourhood. Unlike the adoption of the “East Village” moniker, the SoMa name wasn’t endorsed by the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Association and never really caught on.
The idea of new smaller neighbourhoods emerging out of existing larger neighbourhoods is nothing new and as the city evolves it will continue to happen. One of the best known examples would be The Drive, which is a smaller neighbourhood within the borders of Grandview-Woodlands. There is also the newly minted Little Saigon (Kingsway between Hastings and Nanaimo), Crosstown (the area around Cafe Medina), Railtown just east of Gastown and possibly Pinoytown (although I like Little Manilla better).
I like the name East Village and I can see why the business association wants to rebrand. However, I’m not too sure this will go over well for long time residents of Hastings-Sunrise.
Look for street banners to appear in April.