The Marine Building is still, for old-timers, the building most clearly identified with Vancouver. Its unique wedding cake “icing”, topped by that vaguely Mayan tower, makes a dramatic and exciting backdrop as you look west down Hastings. It is one of the great art deco buildings in the world.
Construction started in the spring of 1929 with a ceremony in keeping with the style of the building. “Yesterday morning,” said a March 14 newspaper report, “His Worship Mayor W.H. Malkin blew a blast on a golden whistle and with it set in motion the steam shovel that will excavate the site for the new Burrard Street Marine skyscraper.”
From that first breaking of the ground to the formal opening October 7, 1930 was 16 months. And, when the Marine Building opened—with 21 floors at a height of 97.8 metres (321 feet)—Vancouver had seen nothing like it.
Uniformed doormen stood beneath a huge arched entrance framed in glittering polished brass. The doormen have gone now but everything else is as it was. An Art Deco flock of Canada geese, the rays of the setting sun blazing over them, still fly past a mass of intricately carved marine life—lobsters, crabs, prawns and starfish crawling over each other through a waving forest of seaweed.