Gastown: The Neighbourhood with a Classic Twist

Established in the year 1876, Gastown is a national historic location situated right next to the city’s downtown core. Gastown is also considered as Vancouver’s oldest community and maintains every ouce of the city’s historical landmarks and charm. Characterized by its Victorian architecture and cobblestone streets, Gastown is a neighbourhood that lies east of the city’s main shopping and business centre. Gastown is the home of a diverse population including designers, architects, artists, students and young families. The neighbourhood sits in the inner harbour, near the city’s main shopping districts. Through the years, Gastown has evolved into a vibrant and hip neighbourhood renewed with a new energy.

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The town got its name from Captain ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton in 1867, who was one of the initial settlers in Vancouver. The captain got his nickname because of his long tales. Gastown prospered and became the location of the Hastings Mill seaport and sawmill. It quickly emerged as a trading centre in the Burrard Inlet and as a rowdy resort for fishermen, crew and captains who came to the city. Today, Gastown is a unique mix of modern furnishing and fashion boutiques, nightclubs, restaurants, tourist shops and poverty & upscale residential housing.

Geographical Location

The town’s historical boundaries were Columbia Street, Cambie Street, Hasting Street and the waterfront (Water Street). Today, Gastown’s official boundaries do not include Hastings Street except for the Dominion Building and the Woodward Building. It stretches to the east past Columbia Street to the laneway parallel to the western portion of Main Street.

School and Transportation

Gastown is only a walking distance from Downtown Vancouver and is accessible by transit. There is a ferry that sails from North Vancouver to the Waterfront Station on the western part of Gastown. The Waterfront serves as the ending point of Canada Line and Skytrain, the city’s rapid train providers. Aside from these transportation options, there are a few bus routes that run along Hasting and Pender Streets through the town centre.

There is an elementary school near Gastown- the Strathcona Elementary School along Pender Street. The nearest public high school is the King George Secondary along Barclay Street at the west end. Gastown is also surrounded with post secondary learning institutions such as the British Columbia School of Technology, Vancouver Community College and the Simon Fraser University.

Entertainment and Shopping

At the eastern part of Water Street lies the Portside Park entrance, one of the city’s hidden gems. The beach isn’t visible from most areas in the downtown, and isn’t heavily used compared to other Vancouver beaches. The park features magnificent views of the North Shore Mountains, Vancouver Port and the Burrard Inlet. It also offers a playground area and an off leash space for dogs. The Portside Park also offers grassy areas and benches across the Gastown waterfront. The recent developments in the community have retained Gastown’s traditional look. A perfect example of this is the Woodwards Building.

Gastown also offers independent cafes and restaurants which are frequented by locals and tourists alike. There are plenty of gourmet offerings in many of their world renowned eateries.

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