Kim Lee


gastown buildings

Gastown offers a heavy dose of the rich culture of Vancouver as the ambiance comes with solely gorgeous vibes.

From the Cobblestone Streets to the Victorian buildings, this Vancouver landmark is a tourist delight with so much history. No wonder Gastown was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 2009.

Just by stepping foot into the neighbourhood, the old structures and designs will take you back in time. It is located at Waterfront Street, Vancouver, V68 2K7.

Gastown is an 18.2-hectare area with 137 retail shops, 73 restaurants, and some bars. It also contains 7 galleries and 10 schools/colleges. 

Where Is Gastown Located?

Gastown is located somewhere in between Downtown Eastside and Canada Place. The neighbourhood runs from the Waterfront to East Hastings, and its boundaries are between Richards Street and Main Street.

Once you get to the popular Vancouver Harbour, Gastown becomes easy to spot.

Another popular route is by taking the SkyTrain. You would have to stop at the Stadium-Chinatown station. From here, Gastown is just about a 5-minutes walk away.

Now, Gastown has become an urban community with a fine blend of heritage.

What Is The History Behind Gastown?

It all started in 1867 when John Deighton, aka Gassy Jack, arrived at the area now known as Gastown. The man was a steamboat captain and he started the Globe Salon.

He recruited some local sawmill workers to help build the saloon, and the workers got paid with whiskey. This salon, as well as the talkative man, soon became the highlight of this area.

Shortly after, the town began to form and the community increased in number. The name of this part of the neighbourhood later became Gassy’s Town – it was named after the steamboat captain.

After a while, the name evolved into Gastown and now, Gastown has become an urban community with a fine blend of heritage.

What Landmarks Are There To Look Out For?

  • Whistling Steam Clock

You don’t get to experience a steam clock whistling in all streets. This clock was built in 1977. To date, it stands as one of the most iconic landmarks in Gastown.

This clock uses both the steam engine and electric motors. The steam make-up of this giant clock is visible through the sides.

One beautiful aspect of this feature is that it displays time from all sides.

It gets even more beautiful as the clock plays the Westminster Quarters tune after every 15 minutes. And after every hour, the clock steam from the top.

  • Glassy Jack Statue

This is a bronze statue of Gassy Jack on the Maple Tree Square on Water Street. As earlier stated, Gassy Jack played an important role in the creation and history of Gastown.

The spot where the statue stands today is close to where his salon used to be. The statue is on a whiskey barrel. 

What Sort of Fun Activities Are Permissible?

  • Shopping

Gastown is a shopping haven, especially for tourists. The shopping ranges from clothing to art, fixtures, and many more.

You will find numerous clothing stores on every corner. Stores like Hey Jude, Nouvelle, and Artemisa Clothing, are in West Córdoba Street alone.

Beyond the clothing, Gastown also constitutes houseware stores. One of the most popular options is the Old Faithful Shop.

You also have the option of ‘escape d.’, where customers can get unique home decor and local art.

  • Bars and restaurants

Visitors get spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a spot for dinner. There are fleets of amazing eateries and restaurants, which serve some of the best foods in the neighbourhood.

One that stands out is the Old Spaghetti factory, which comes with a very unique structure. There is also a spot for vegetarians and vegans.

  • Nightlife

It offers a vibrant nightlife with a rich variety of activities. The cocktail bars are open with music resonating from them unto the streets.

Some DJs also get on the wheels to keep the groove on. This range of nightlife activities continues till early in the morning.

  • Work

Yes, you heard right–work! Gastown provides the perfect ambiance and market for businesses to thrive. Also, if you need a sophisticated space for remote work, this is the perfect spot for you.

In Gastown, there are fascinating lofts and work studios that provide all the necessary tools but still make everyone feel at home. 

Getting to Gastown

There are 2 major options:

  • Public transit

The SkyTrain and Canada Line can easily take visitors to Gastown. The city buses and West Coast Express can transport persons to Gastown. 

  • Cruise Ship Terminal or Trade & Convention Centre

Within 5 minutes, you can walk from the Cruise Ship Terminal to Gastown.

It is also that close to the Trade & Convention Centre. Once you get to either of these places, Gastown is just two blocks away. 

What Facilities Can Visitors Access?

  • Carshare and bike-share

Gastown reserves space for car-share parking with entities like Evo, Car2610, Modo, and Zipcar. Also, Gastown features bike-share stations like Mobi.

  • Real estate

Gastown offers several spaces for sale or lease.

  • Sightseeing

The Vancouver lookout is one place to check out whenever you are in Gastown. It is at Harbour Centre. You get panoramic views of the city from this point. 

What Are The Functions of GBIS?

The Gastown Business Improvement Society (GBIS) was set up in 1989. This society is a way of converging relevant stakeholders in optimizing Gastown – in terms of quality of life, assets, operating conditions for businesses, promotion, and advocacy for the area. 

Points to Note

  • There are lots of one-way streets, so locating Gastown can sometimes prove difficult if you don’t follow the right route.
  • Gastown is one of the most populated parts of Vancouver. The market area houses roughly 108,128 residents. Visitors should take necessary measures and precautions to ensure safety.