For a few days every summer, Commercial Drive bursts to life. The main section of the street, from Grandview Highway to Venables Street to the north, closes down to cars to celebrate Italian Day, Car Free Day, the Parade of Lost Souls and more. On festival days, the streets flood with young families and fun-seekers of every stripe. They come from all over Vancouver to see live performers, check out local vendors and look at the colourful murals that line the drive. With such a friendly community, it’s not surprising that many families and professionals come for more than just the festivals; they come seeking Commercial Drive real estate.
Even on regular days, Commercial Drive is a lively street. Its sidewalks are lined with some of the best local groceries, eateries and specialty stores. With almost exclusively independent local businesses, Grandview maintains a pleasant small town feel. You’re likely to get to know your barista, your grocer and the guys who work down at the hardware store. The area is also full of community gardens and small parks to relax in, and, at night, music filters into the streets from the small bars and cafes. But don’t let the small town atmosphere fool you: it’s a short drive, bike ride or SkyTrain trip to Downtown Vancouver. The area also features several schools, lots of parks and, near the centre of the neighbourhood, Brittannia Community Centre.
The Grandview neighbourhood stretches from south of Broadway to Trout Lake and John Hendry Park, and north towards the Hastings neighbourhood around Venables Street. To the west, it’s bordered by Clark Street and to the east by Nanaimo.
Turn east off Commercial Drive and you’ll find yourself on quiet residential streets, cooled by towering oaks. Here’s where you’re most likely to find attractive Commercial Drive houses for sale. The west side of the Drive is more sparsely wooded, but features spectacular views of the city core. Regardless of which side of the street you find a home on, you’re close to everything. The shape of the neighbourhood and its main street means that all amenities tend to be only a few blocks away from the homes. Because of this, many residents make the choice not to own cars at all. This is, after all, a neighbourhood best experienced on foot.
Commercial Drive and the Grandview neighbourhood has a rich, layered history. It’s been largely shaped by immigrant communities that have found themselves in the area. The neighbourhood still supports many of the businesses (and much of “la dolce vita”) from the huge Italian community that moved to Vancouver after World War II, when Commercial Drive real estate prices were low. These Italian cafes, bakeries, cheese shops and pizzerias, found along the length of the Drive give the area its other name: “Little Italy.” They’re also exciting places to catch a soccer game.
Later waves of Latino, Vietnamese and Jamaican immigrants have also made their mark on the community with authentic restaurants and unique cultural offerings. In the 1980s, Commercial Drive became popular with hippies and young artists, inspired by the community and inexpensive housing. Unlike in many other neighbourhoods, where new groups threaten to drive old groups out, Grandview has become remarkably diverse. You can see the interplay of different groups and cultures on the streets today.
Grandview has been a hub for transit in Vancouver for over a century, when it became a stop on the historical Vancouver – New Westminster streetcar line. Commercial and Broadway, the area’s principle intersection, is one of the busiest parts of the city. Here, two major SkyTrain lines meet with the buses that service the Broadway corridor. Many thousands of cars pass by on their way to downtown, Mount Pleasant, Fairview and Kitsilano.