Established in 1867, Gastown is the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver, but quickly becoming the freshest place to live. The streets are lined with heritage buildings that house funky boutiques, restaurants, and incredible lofts.
Who Lives There
In recent decades Gastown was primarily a tourist destination. Now, it’s an eclectic community of artists, young professionals and those who work in the area – a well-educated population (46% of the 79,000 residents hold university degrees) most of whom are in their mid 20s to late 30s. Gastown has developed into a true neighbourhood, where one can walk down the street and stop and chat with those who live and work in the area. New additions such as Nester’s Market in the Woodward’s building ensure one will not have to venture far for essentials, keeping Gastown’s residents local.
Things to Do
Gastown is home to a plethora of boutiques, galleries, restaurants and lounges. Shops range from the casual Alife on Water St. to the high end Richard Kidd, a building made of two panels of glass situated between two existing buildings. Restaurants such as Boneta, Cobre and Diamond have brought a European-style dining experience to area, and The Revel Room offers live jazz and incredible cocktails. La Casita at first glance may seem like a hole in the wall, but the food is about as authentic Mexican as you can find this far north – and delicious. Salt dedicates its menu to wine, scotch, and cheese, meat and antipasto plates, while at Guilt & Co. one can order board games with a cocktail. Upstairs the Chill Winston provides one of the best people watching patios in the city, and during the Vancouver International Jazz Festival some of the best seats. Shine perseveres as the leading nightclub in an area which was once home to many, but Gastown now seems focused on great food, fun lounges (try the Lamplighter or the Irish Heather) and interesting people.
Once targeted for demolition during the 1960s, Gastown was saved due to the large number of heritage buildings. As the rest of Vancouver developed, however, Gastown was left behind. Now, many of the original properties remain, but have been refurbished to create stunning lofts and suites to suit the savvy residents. Other buildings, although not saved, have stayed true to the character of the area. The Woodwards building houses some of the most sought-after real estate in Vancouver: a property that signifies the direction the neighbourhood is headed and that caters to the emerging professional population in the area. Most Gastown properties are apartments and condos, and most inhabitants rent. While real estate prices are above average in relation to Metro Vancouver as a whole, they increase steadily on a yearly basis, ensuring Gastown real estate will remain a good investment in the years to come.
Schools and Safety
Strathcona Elementary School is located nearby on East Pender Street. The nearest secondary school is King George Secondary in the West End, but various post-secondary institutions are close by, including the SFU and BCIT downtown campuses.
Due to the many years Gastown was not properly maintained, it is not the most family-oriented area of Vancouver. It is not however, entirely unsafe, and since the new developments is fast becoming one of Vancouver’s hot spots. While safety can be a bit of a concern at night time, the well lit busy streets and late-night restaurants diminish any serious risk.
Everything within Gastown is walking distance, and its proximity to downtown Vancouver means one can walk most places there as well. There is a bike lane along West Pender that runs to downtown Vancovuer, as well as one along Dunsmuir completely cut off from traffic. Likewise, another two-way lane runs along Carrall, which takes you to the seawall in 5 minutes time. The closest SkyTrain stations are Stadium-Chinatown on Beatty and Dunsmuir, where one can go east to Burnaby or south to the airport; or Waterfront, which runs through downtown Vancouver to South Cambie, Richmond, and the airport. The SeaBus is located a 5 minute walk away, by Waterfront station, and will take you to North Vancouver. Because of its central location, various buses are available depending on where you want to go. There is meter parking on the street and a parkade on Water Street, but many buildings feature underground parking for residents.