Stephen Avenue Mall in downtown Calgary was named for the Canadian Pacific Railway's first president, Lord George Mount Stephen. Today, Stephen Avenue Mall gives an indication of, not just architectural styles, but also the changing needs of Calgarians for this commercial downtown avenue.
A fire on November 7, 1886, almost destroyed the buildings that lined Stephen Avenue. To create " fireproof " buildings, locally quarried sandstone was used mainly for commercial buildings. It was because of this that Calgary became known as the " Sandstone City. " The use of sandstone in commercial construction ended in 1914, because of dwindling supplies, and the availability of cheaper brick
At the east end of Stephen Avenue is Calgary's City Hall. " Old City Hall, " as it is often called, was built of local sandstone, with a steel structure encased in one inch of concrete to protect against fire. It was opened on June 26, 1911.
Just across the street from City Hall is the Olympic Plaza. Constructed in 1987, it was the location of the medal ceremonies for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Early in the city's history, this area was the location of many businesses and services. By 1911, a person could buy fish, shoes, boots, liquor, baked goods, postage stamps, and a cup of coffee in this block.
Other sections of Stephen Avenue Mall have been torn down to make room for new additions to the avenue. Sixteen buildings were torn down to construct the Glenbow Museum-Convention Centre complex, and others have been torn down to build shopping malls. However, much of the history of Stephen Avenue remains, as today many owners are choosing to restore their buildings to their original condition.