Vancouver History: Harbour Centre

Comments 6 by Rebecca Bollwitt

33 years ago today Harbour Centre was officially opened and at 481 feet, it was the tallest building in Vancouver at the time.1 Harbour Centre is the home of The Vancouver Lookout, a revolving restaurant, a mall, various businesses and tech firms, as well as one of SFU‘s downtown campuses.

Harbour Centre in the Fog

In 1977 it was called the Sears Tower and within it, the revolving Harbour House Restaurant (now the Top of Vancouver) had a special guest for the occasion. Neil Armstrong (the man who walked on the moon) left a set of footprints in fresh concrete that are still on display today.2

The building sits at the location of the old Spencer’s Department Store which was demolished when Sears moved in. Still standing on the other corner, at West Hastings and Richards, the David Spencer building currently houses offices and the SFU campus.

1930s – Archives item #CVA 1495-32

2009 – Google Street View

I have yet to make it up to the Vancouver Lookout but those I’ve spoken to said it provides an unparalleled view of the city.

Photo credit: shashin on Flickr

Photo credit: ecstaticist on Flickr

Photo credit: Duane Storey on Flickr

Photo credit: Duane Storey on Flickr

Photo credit: Duane Storey on Flickr

Tickets to take the glass elevator up to the observation deck at The Lookout are $15 for adults, with free admission for children 5 and under. Reservations for the Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant, where you can dine at 553 feet, can be made anytime and they serve brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

While it’s no longer the tallest building in the city, it is a unique part of our skyline — and it’s been a part of my banner image since 2006. Adorned with glowing red lights during the Olympics or green during the winter holidays, it’s a modern Vancouver icon. Happy Birthday, Harbour Centre!


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6 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. fotoeinsTuesday, June 8th, 2010 — 10:39am PDT

    Thanks, Beck.

    Shortly after its opening in `77, our mum took my sister and me to the very top of the Sears Tower (Harbour Centre). I remember a time when there was no such landmark, and now of course, it’s very difficult to imagine the skyline without The Tower.

    Gosh, I feel old now …

  2. A LTuesday, June 8th, 2010 — 11:31am PDT

    I’ve eaten at Top of Vancouver twice, and I LOVE their food, view, and service.

  3. Robert DallWednesday, June 9th, 2010 — 2:32pm PDT

    What? Rebecca you have never been to the top of Harbour Centre? Shame on you!!!

    I highly recommend the trip up. You will really enjoy it on a sunny day!

  4. BrendaMonday, June 13th, 2011 — 10:14am PDT

    Hi Rebecca, pop down sometime and I will take you up to the look out so you have a birds eye view. Thanks for the story on HC.

  5. SheilaMonday, February 6th, 2012 — 11:28am PST

    My daughter and I went to the top of the tower restaurant yesterday (Feb.5/12)for a late lunch. We found that they were only serving a bouffet brunch for $40 per person plus tax. We decided to have a glass of wine instead as neither of us was that hungry. Initially we waited about 10 minutes for a waiter. Then we waited at least another 10 to 15 minutes for a glass of wine which never appeared. My daughter went to the counter and asked if they had poured our wine to which they replied ‘no’ so we left. While we waiting for the elevator the hostess asked us if we have enjoyed our meal. She had just ushered us to a seat about 25 minutes prior. To make a long story short, it appeared that the staff were in a comma; possibly it was the elevation. What a disappointing experience – a restaurant I would definitely not recommend.

  6. michaelSunday, August 26th, 2012 — 12:27pm PDT

    I went a couple years ago to see them; and the woman at the info desk told me they had been removed and put in storage. Are they back on display?

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