Vancouver Districts & Neighbourhoods
Vancouver, with its strong Asian influence, has a pulsating Chinatown located downtown in the West End. Centred on Pender and Keefer streets between Carrall and Gore is a hive of bustling shops, restaurants and markets and delightful examples of early Vancouver architecture, some of the oldest surviving in the city, house stores that sell exotic foods and gift ware. A traditional gate frames the entrance to the Chinese Cultural Centre, which hosts exhibitions and lectures and operates walking tours, while behind high, cloistered walls is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, an impressive classical Chinese garden in Ming Dynasty style.
Reaching west from Hornby into the densely-populated West End is a fashionable collection of stores and restaurants that make Robson Street one of Vancouver's premier shopping areas. While the street runs from Stanley Park to B.C. Place Stadium, it's this cluster of designer boutiques, coffee shops and international eateries that gives Robson its vibrant personality day and night. It's a good street for a stroll, for watching people and meeting friends. On a weekend evening, that's what everyone in town under 30 seems to be doing. The Vancouver Art Gallery fronts Robson Square; on its south side is the Provincial Courthouse, designed by noted local architect Arthur Erickson.
This visitor-friendly oasis in the middle of the city is a lively collection of renovated warehouses that have been transformed into theatres, artists' studios, craft shops, and a thriving public market known for its fresh seafood and produce. The Island is home to restaurants and marinas and has its own brewery. The seawall walk around False Creek is easily reached from Anderson Street (to Island Walk) on Granville Island's south side. To return downtown, hop on a mini-ferry.
The oldest part of the city, this quaint area stretches east from Canada Place to Maple Tree Square along Vancouver's harbour. Subject of a massive restoration in the late 1960s, Gastown is now undergoing a new gentrification as old buildings are transformed into fashionable live-work spaces in the manner of New York lofts. The area is notable for its distinctive late-Victorian architecture, and for some superbly appointed stores and restaurants. Harbour Centre, with its Lookout! observation deck, stands sentinel at Gastown's western edge. The Gastown Steam Clock sounds the Westminster chimes at the corner of Water and Cambie streets. A statue of the city's founding father oversees Maple Tree Square.
This is the large area that takes in Point Grey and the University of British Columbia. Between Kitsilano and UBC are several beaches; Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks, and Wreck Beach (the nudist beach). On the University grounds is the UBC Botanical Garden, including Nitobe Memorial Garden and the Asian Garden. Probably the most famous place on campus is the renowned Museum of Anthropology with its stunning, pole-filled Great Hall.
Situated near the corner of Comox and Bute Streets in Vancouver's West End, Mole Hill is the city's only intact Victorian and Edwardian neighbourhood. The enclave includes more than 30 heritage houses that were built between 1888 and 1918, and today have been restored to be representative of the 1920s. The neighbourhood also features a greenway in the lane behind the houses.
Kerrisdale's genteel shopping district, centred around 41st Avenue and West Boulevard, still has a village feel. Pleasant restaurants, fashion boutiques and exclusive gift shops characterize the area. South from Kerrisdale down Blenheim and Balaclava streets is Southlands, the centre of Vancouver's equestrian community bordering the Fraser River. West of Kerrisdale, 41st Avenue merges into S.W. Marine Drive, traverses Pacific Spirit Park and arrives eventually at the University of British Columbia. A view point on the south side of the road gives a panorama of the Richmond delta, Georgia Strait, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island beyond.
False Creek, as the name suggests, is not a creek but refers to both an inlet and the land surrounding it in downtown Vancouver. Rejuvenated in the last couple of decades, it accommodates mixed-income housing and sporting venues. It is also popular with roller-bladers and kayakers.
Point Grey refers to both a peninsula and a community of Vancouver. Named for Captain Grey, a friend of George Vancouver, the peninsula and its cliffs are home to the University of British Columbia as well as one of Vancouver's westernmost neighbourhoods.
This is the central peninsula that comprises the commercial heart of the city, where office towers, shopping centres and hotels vie for the best views. At its western reach is Canada Place, its roof of stylized sails jutting into the harbour. In the courtyard of Cathedral Place, on Georgia Street's north side, is the Canadian Craft Museum, almost opposite the stately Vancouver Art Gallery and Robson Square. Howe Street north of Georgia is the city's financial heart, home to the Vancouver Stock Exchange and gleaming office towers. Granville south of Robson is a pedestrian mall inhabited by a strip of movie theatres, clubs and concert halls. The eastern end of Georgia Street, near the colosseum-shaped Vancouver Public Library, is the theatre and stadium district. Near there, along the north shore of False Creek, is the condo district dubbed Downtown South.
Unlike some cities where the gay and lesbian culture is but a small sub-section, Vancouver's LGBT scene is found throughout the city. That said, the main concentration of same-sex cafes, bars, clubs and gay residences is on Davie Street between Jervis and Burrard.
At the eastern edge of downtown, Yaletown's rambling brick warehouses are undergoing a renaissance as elegant storefronts and artists' studios. The young and the fashionable, involved in Yaletown's movie production houses, hair salons, interior design stores and the wholesale clothing industry, converge on the neighbourhood's bistros and restaurants. Chic condos are springing up on Yaletown's perimeter, parading down to the shores of False Creek.
Although it's nicknamed Little Italy, The Drive from 1st Avenue south to about 12th Avenue is a colourful melting pot of Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Latin American shops, bakeries and restaurants. The nearby Vancouver East Cultural Centre is a church converted into a theatre.
High-rise apartment buildings flank English Bay, home to thousands of Vancouverites who love the neighbourhood amenities, all within walking distance; the sunny summer sands of English Bay beaches, the thousand acres of Stanley Park, the stores and eateries of Robson, Thurlow, Alberni, Denman and Davie streets. Roedde House and other early houses in Barclay Square are preserved for their heritage value.