Between 1900 and 1940 in the Hastings Street district (which I’m defining to include streets a couple blocks off of Hastings) there were, by my count, about a dozen theatres. That number, by the way, includes only distinct buildings – not cases of multiple owners buying a theatre and changing its name with every purchase (e.g., the second Pantages Theatre at 20 W Hastings which was also known during its life as the Beacon, the Odeon, and the Majestic). Most of the earliest theatres in the district began truly as theatres, versus cinemas, housing vaudeville acts and plays. By the 1930s and later, however, most gave way to the craze for movies and duly adapted.
The City of Vancouver, in my judgement, made a series of less-than-optimal choices that resulted in a stretch of Hastings that once had three theatres on it (Columbia, the Cameraphone (the name was chnaged to the National soon after it opened), and the 2nd Pantages/Beacon/Odeon/Majestic), and which were knocked down, one by one, to await development when it’s deemed most profitable; until that time, this stretch of Hastings is a community garden. No doubt, enough ink has been spilled over the sad loss of the original Pantages Theatre (1907-2011) one block east of the community garden site.
March/2014: I have recently noticed references to three other Hastings area Theatres. Text references to the Rose Theatre and the Crystal Theatre indicate that these were in roughly the same block as the original Pantages Theatre. In addition, there are images of the very early Imperial Theatre (700 block, Main Street, near Georgia) which appears to have been in disuse for many years -- at least from 1919 to 1943. I'm not sure when it was destroyed, but for a number of years it was home to Walsh's Auto Parts and Wrecking (the facade of the building was changed very little).
A 1919 image of the Imperial Theatre may be found at Vancouver Public Library's historical photo site here:
A later (1943) image of the Imperial may be found on City of Vancouver Archives here:
If you are interested in seeing more in this series of Street Corner Histories, you are welcome to check them out and/or bookmark them for future reference:Vancouver Street Corner Histories
For more Vancouver history through the inspiration of photos, see: https://vanasitwas.wordpress.com/