Big 'W' back atop Woodward's

A downtown Vancouver landmark has been restored: A replica of the big, twirling, lighted "W" that looked down on the city for generations from atop the Woodward's building on West Hastings Street has been given pride of place at the new Woodward's development.
Workers prepare to hoist the new "W" atop the new Woodward's complex in downtown Vancouver on Saturday. (CBC)
A downtown Vancouver landmark has been restored.

A replica of the big, twirling, lighted "W" that looked down on the city for generations from atop the Woodward's building on West Hastings Street has been given pride of place on top of the new Woodward's development.

The new complex, which began construction after the old building was demolished in the summer of 2006, combines housing, commercial/retail and institutional arts space.

The replica of the big "W," which uses environmentally correct LED lights that require less than five per cent of the electricity of its predecessor, was set to be lit following a short ceremony Sunday night.

"It's a symbol of a community that's really gone through a lot and the fact that 'W' has come back is a symbol of hope," said Linda Mix of the Woodward's Community Advisory Committee.

"Vancouver is my home and this is part of my history and the history of my city," added a person in the crowd who watched on Saturday as Gregory Henriquez and other workers waited for the wind to drop before carefully hoisting the sign atop the new building.

"That's 6,700 pounds of steel, so we don't want to slip," Henriquez said. 

The big "W" brought back lots of memories for those in attendance.

"I remember it back in the '70s," one person in the crowd recalled. "My mom and dad used to come and shop at Woodward's for '1.49 day.'"

Added another: "My mother used to bring me here as a child."

But not all the memories were golden: "First place I ever got arrested was in the Woodward's building," one person said.