In downtown Vancouver’s Gastown neighborhood there is a unique spiral staircase that leads to nowhere. After it lands on the third floor it begins to loop upward again, but stops before reaching the top.
The concrete staircase is located in an outdoor atrium of the Woodward’s building, the location of the former department store by the same name that went bankrupt in the 1990s. The building was eventually torn down and redeveloped to include an outdoor plaza where the staircase to nowhere stands. There’s also a public basketball court, and a 30-by-50-foot glass art installation by Stan Douglas depicting the Gastown Riot of 1971.
The space has an upbeat and friendly community feel. While watching a pick-up basketball game a salsa class may show up and dance in front of shoppers walking by. You can watch this all at the top of the strange spiral staircase that towers above the space. The winding structure is reportedly meant to resemble an umbilical cord, representing new birth and new life in the neighborhood.