Once an industrial centre, Yaletown has developed into one of the city’s trendiest and most thriving communities. Named after the gold rush town of Yale whose residents moved into that part of Vancouver once the Canadian Pacific Railway extended from their home to the city, Yaletown became run down by the late 20th Century. After Expo ’86, however, the potential for development in the area became clear, and it was purchased by a Honk Kong investor. Almost a quarter-century later, one can easily see how that investment has paid off. Hamilton and Mainland Streets have maintained their historical charm, with refurbished heritage buildings – most of which were once warehouses – converted into lofts, offices, restaurants and shops. New properties have grown up around this central area, and Yaletown now consist of apartment buildings housing modern condos with fantastic views and amenities.
Who Lives There
The Yaletown population has grown considerably in the last decade, and consists primarily of young professionals in their late 20s to late 30s. Although there are significantly fewer children in Yaletown than Metro Vancouver as a whole, many young families choose to stay in the area until the time comes to purchase a larger home. Artists and sales and service people also populate the neighbourhood. While Yaletown became renowned for multimedia offices during the dot com boom, it now houses a broader array of businesses and its population reflects this.
Things to Do
Mainland, Hamilton and Homer Streets are replete with hair and nail salons, boutique clothing and gift stores, lifestyle and home furnishing stores, restaurants, and lounges. Check out Blo Blow Dry Bar or Bombay Brows for some pampering, or Atomic Model for a selection of original clothing. Fine Finds also features clothing and accessories by local and international designers, and a selection of gifts that rivals that of Beauty Mark down the street. For vintage finds, stop by Retro Rock Vintage Clothing on Davie and Seymour, arguably one of the best vintage stores within the downtown area. Urban Fare, Choices Market and Nester’s Market serve the community with a large variety of grocery options, from gourmet to organic to locally grown products.
Yaletown residents are known to keep fit, and Exhale Yoga Pilates Dance Studio at Cambie and Nelson offers a wide variety of classes. Running, walking, cycling or rollerblading the seawall is another favourite local pastime, and it now runs all the way to Spanish Banks in one direction and Stanley Park and Canada Place in the other. David Lam Park features free tennis courts and is one of several, including an off leash dog park. The Roundhouse Community Centre offers activities and programs for all ages, and the Yaletown Marina provides moorage for boating enthusiasts.
Restaurants abound in this part of town. Try Brix, Glowbal or Blue Water for fine dining, or Cactus Club or Rodney’s Oyster Bar for more casual fare. Phat and Bojangles create great sandwiches, and Provence at the marina, although open all day, boasts some of the best brunch in Vancouver. Yaletown’s most recent addition, 100 Days in the Opus Hotel, is a concept restaurant modeled after the pop-up restaurant trend that began in New York City, and combines art and food in one experience. Bar None is open late for those wishing to check out the club scene.
Yaletown showcases some of the best properties Vancouver real estate has to offer. The new developments promise elegant, modern design, fantastic amenities, and great views. Yaletown condos are on average relatively small, however, and prices can be higher than most other Vancouver real estate of similar proportions. Properties such as the Grace on Richards St. embody the style and sophistication of Yaletown real estate, boasting an indoor/outdoor pool, biometric fingerprint security, and suites featuring granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, and limestone tile floors.
Schools and Safety
Elsie Roy Elementary School has a beautiful location across from False Creek, next to David Lam Park. Dorothy Lam Centre is also located here, and offers childcare and programs for children. King George Secondary in the West End is the closest secondary school. CSLI (Canadian as a Second Language Institute) has a campus on the corner of Cambie and Nelson, and the Vancouver English Centre is one block away on Smithe.
Yaletown is usually busy whatever the time of day, and the streets are well lit with many businesses open late. The neighbourhood can be considered quite safe, but one should exercise caution along the unlit seawall after dark.
Yaletown is easily accessible from any part of town. The recent addition of the Canada Line facilitates commutes north to the downtown core (one stop) and Waterfront Station, or south to South Cambie, Oakridge, Richmond, and the Vancouver International Airport. The Aquabus ferries have two stops in Yaletown, one at the Yaletown Marina and one at David Lam Park. The Aquabus offers an efficient and stress-free way to travel around False Creek.
Shuttle buses run throughout the neighbourhood and connect to major bus routes, and a cycle lane runs up and down Pacific St. to Expo Boulevard, connecting to Downtown Vancouver or Gastown, or across the Burrard and Cambie St. Bridges. Hamilton and Mainland are both one way in order to accommodate pedestrians and parking. Most Yaletown properties feature secure underground parking, and there is meter parking on the street for visitors.
Up next: False Creek North