Granville Street is known as the entertainment district of Downtown Vancouver and is home to numerous shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. During the 1950s, Granville Street attracted many tourists to one of the world's largest displays of neon signs. In the middle of the 20th century, the Downtown portion of Granville Street had become a flourishing centre for entertainment, known for its cinemas (built along the "Theatre Row," from the Granville Bridge to where Granville Street intersects Robson Street), restaurants, clubs, and the Vogue and Orpheum theatres.
During the summer, the city of Vancouver launched “Rediscover Granville.” The concept was to open up Granville Street as a pedestrian zone, for five blocks between Smithe and Hastings. People can then play, walk, shop, and relax on weekends in the summer. There was also an exciting mix of free events and activities to promote healthy recreational activities in Downtown Vancouver. These activities and events included dancing, art lessons, street music, street hockey, markets, and exhibits. Furthermore, the pedestrianised Granville promoted the idea of other forms of transportation including biking and walking. The reduction in number of cars translated into fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Since 2002, the City of Vancouver and other stakeholder and consultants including Tourism Vancouver and the Board of Trade have been working on redesigning the street. This relates to the need to improve transit, pedestrian movement, and vitality of the street, in re-establishing it as one of Downtown Vancouver’s most important streets.
In 1974, Vancouver withdrew a major part of downtown Granville Street from access by general traffic and dedicated the six blocks from Nelson to Hastings Streets as a pedestrian and transit mall serving mostly Vancouver’s local trolley bus service. The idea was to create a transit-pedestrian mall was to apply the City’s new transportation priorities and to restore the economic pre-eminence of Granville Street.
Granville Street is important to the community as it was a gathering place during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver for everyone to celebrate the spirit of the games.