Walking through Gastown is always a delight, with heritage architecture bringing colour and charm to every street. Gastown is one of the oldest parts of Vancouver and looks very different to the concrete and glass found elsewhere in the city. Built up in the late 19th century, it’s a small neighbourhood of old brick buildings and local stores. Some parts have been restored yet other areas remain in a rather captivating state of decay. Gastown is located between Downtown Vancouver and the residential neighbourhoods of Commercial Street and Hastings Park.
Gastown is small and compact, consisting of four parallel streets to the east of Waterfront Station. Water Street is the busiest and most reconstructed, a place where tourist souvenir shops stand on cobbled stone. Pedestrianised Trounce Alley has a wide selection of shops and restaurants, while West Cordova Street has retained a more authentic old-world feel.
The easiest way to reach Gastown is to alight at either the Waterfront or Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain stations. Everything is within short walking distance, although it is possible to take any of the buses that run through the neighbourhood. Most of the area has been adorned with distinctive lamps, which help create a homely atmosphere during the evening.
The Dominion Building, at the end of West Hastings Street, really helps to put modern architecture into context. When it was built in 1910, this red and mustard coloured high-rise was the tallest commercial building in the whole of the British Empire. Fast forward a century, and it’s dwarfed by dozens of glass-fronted developments in Vancouver’s Downtown.