Gastown, Vancouver

3.5 out of 5 stars 64 Reviews

Water Street, Vancouver

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  • Close up of the Steam Clock in Gastown
    Close up of the Steam Clock in Gastown
    by Ann75
  • Information
    Information
    by briantravelman
  • Gastown Square
    Gastown Square
    by briantravelman
  • jessicat1982's Profile Photo

    Not Just another tourist trap

    by jessicat1982 Written Jan 16, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Steam Clock

    Established in 1867, Gastown was once one of Canada's largest prospering urban cities...today, many feel Gastown is synonymous with tourists, overpriced souvenirs and un-affordable merchandise.

    Although this feels true at first glance, with A mix of old cobbled streets and newly renovated buildings, Gastown is slowly becoming the cosmopolitan neighbourhood it once was.

    With stores like Dream, Tabu, One Of a Few and Deluxe Junk Co. it's hard not to love this little district. Although One of a Few is not to be visited by those with a smaller wallet, the other aforementioned stores are reasonably priced, some downright cheap. At Deluxe Junk Co. (a great consignment store on Cordova) I was able to find a really cute t-shirt for 15 bucks, and although it's hard to find anything under 40 dollars at Dream, it's also hard to buy anything over 100 bucks. Tabu has some great underwear sets in the double digits and they offer local delivery so you don't have to lug it home with you!! for more info on these and more stores, see my shopping tips.

    Gastown also has a couple of really great night spots like The Blarney Stone and Shine, a great club on Water St. not to mention great restaurants like the eclectic Annex.

    Gastown: Go for the steam clock, stay for the shopping.

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  • Old Time Vancouver

    by woodydag Written Nov 20, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Gastown is probably the most touristy place in Vancouver, but it is still well worth a visit. Filled with 19th century buildings, it is the old town square of Vancouver and has its charms spread among its souvenir shops. Its number one attraction is the Gastown Steam Clock, which plays a tune and bellows steam every 15 minutes. Just enjoy a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. If you want to learn more about its history, download a free MP3 tour of Gastown (http://www.geogad.com). It will really help explain the history of this place.

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  • aukahkay's Profile Photo

    Gastown

    by aukahkay Written Oct 31, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The old steamclock in Gastown
    1 more image

    Gastown is a refreshing mix of old and new, downhome and upscale, a place for tourists, Vancouver residents and office workers alike. Various shops have the streets buzzing during the day. A host of restaurants and nightspots keeps the area humming into the wee hours.
    Named after gold prospector John `Gassy' Jack, Gastown has retained its old and quaint atmosphere with cobblestoned streets and wrough iron lamps. The most characteristic icon of Gastown is the steamclock which lets off steam every 15 minutes.

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  • nigelw6443's Profile Photo

    Gastown/Water Street

    by nigelw6443 Updated Sep 5, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Gassy Jack the founder!

    This is where downtown Vancouver began. A young Englishman by the name of John Deighton, a sailor,gold miner and riverboat pilot bought a pub, the Globe Saloon in New Westminster. Through this pub he became known as Gassy Jack because he always loved to talk of his adventures. He lost this pub but made his way , by canoe with his Indian wife down to the Burrard Inlet in 1867. Thanks to the thirsty workers at the Stamps Mill, Gassy Jack opened a new saloon at what is now the junction of Water and Carrall streets and named it the Globe after his previous saloon. By 1870 the area around the saloon was now named the townsite of Granville and because of new town planning Jack had to move his business. So he bought property nearest to his saloon and built a much better place that he named the Deighton Hotel.

    Although the township was officially called Granville, unofficially it was know as Gastown.

    In 1875 at the young age of 44 Gassy Jack passed away but even after the great fire of 1886 which consumed Gastown and the Deighton Hotel the memory of Gassy Jack Deighton remains as does the name Gastown.

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  • Camping_Girl's Profile Photo

    Home of the Famous Steam Clock

    by Camping_Girl Written Aug 21, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Oops! I just realized that my pictures of Gas Town were taken before we owned a digital camera!! I am going to have to go through boxes of photos and scan them before I can do anything else with this tip - sorry!

    Check back later for (hopefully!) some great pics of Gas Town and the Steam Clock.

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  • worldkiwi's Profile Photo

    Wander Water Street in historic Gastown.

    by worldkiwi Written Aug 5, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The steam clock in Gastown, Vancouver.

    This oddly named section of downtown Vancouver, is the historic site of the city's origins. Named after a colurful sailor and tavern keeper, "Gassy Jack", the area of Gastown along Water Street makes for a pleasant stroll and a good place to buy souvenirs.
    Located in this part of Gastown are two tourist spots of interest. One is the intriguing steam powered clock (that looks like a TARDIS incongruously parked on the footpath) and the family frinedly 'Storyeum'. I've put a separate entry in for the Storyeum, which, though designed for kids, will appeal to anyone young at heart.
    As you wander further east and southeast on Water Street, Gastown gets a bit dodgy and is this area is best avoided at night.

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  • Blatherwick's Profile Photo

    Gastown

    by Blatherwick Written Mar 9, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Waterfront Station

    Gastown is a mix of tourist-oriented business , restaurants, and nightclubs. Gastown's most famous landmark is its steam-powered clock, located on the corner of Cambie and Water Street. Long powered by electricity after its previous breakdown the steam mechanism has been completely restored with the financial support of local businesses. The steam used is low pressure district heating steam that powers miniature steam engine in its base, in turn driving a chain lift. The chain lift moves steel balls upward, where they are unloaded and roll to a descending chain. The weight of the balls on the descending chain drives a conventional pendulum clock escapement, geared to the hands on the four faces. The steam also powers the clock's sound production as whistles are used instead of bells to produce the Westminster "chime" and to signal the time. Learning about the clock's complicated mechanism encourages tourists to spend more time in the district and hence consume more food.

    Also located here is the new Storyeum attraction. Storyeum offers up a live, interactive, educational, re-creation of British Columbia's history through special effects, actors and actresses in a 65 minute show.

    The Warehouse Studio is today located in the renovated brick building that once housed Vancouver's City Hall on Powell Street. It's where many recording artists have done their work including Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne, R.E.M., Sarah McLachlan, and David Foster.

    Gastown is Vancouver's first downtown core and is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a British settler who arrived in 1867 to open the area's first saloon. The town soon prospered as the site of a sawmill, a seaport, and general trade and commerce.

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  • Carmanah's Profile Photo

    Gastown

    by Carmanah Updated Jan 21, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Gastown's famous steam clock
    4 more images

    I have a love-hate relationship with Gastown. I love it for its history, architecture and cool pubs. I hate it for its kitschy tourist trap shops, panhandlers that purposely target the unsuspecting tourists, and how Gastown's advertized as a high priority "must see" Vancouver neighbourhood, whereas, I beg to differ...

    Gastown is an area of Vancouver located in the north-eastern corner of downtown. It was here in 1867 that the townsite was founded, first called Gastown after "Gassy" Jack Deighton - the first man to open a salloon for the sawmill workers that worked here. Gastown wasn't much of anything except a sawmill. Then, it became the terminal of the CPR railroad which allowed Gastown to expand into the town of "Granville" and then finally into the City of Vancouver in 1886.

    Nowadays if you walk along Gastown's Water Street, you can still see some warehouses made of old brick (rare for Vancouver) which were built along the CPR railway. The sawmills are long gone, but you can see how this area once used to be a busy industrial waterfront to which the city grew from. Those railroad tracks are still in use today, but those warehouses have since been converted to trendy lofts, souvenir shops and art galleries. Generally, the buildings in Gastown are typically the oldest in the city.

    Unfortunately, Gastown is right next to the Downtown Eastside, and the area gets its fair share of panhandlers which is often unsettling for visitors. The shops here tend to be of the tacky souvenir shop kind and the restaurants don't really showcase the excellent cuisine scene of Vancouver.

    Most importantly, Gastown's shops close down around 6pm and the neighbourhood feels vacant afterwards. There are much more vibrant downtown neighbourhoods such as English Bay, Denman Street, Robson Street, and Yaletown, for evening strolls.

    If you only have one day in Vancouver, Gastown is worth an hour, but in my opinion there are better places to explore downtown if you have such little time.

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  • Gastown

    by arasnosliw Updated Jan 21, 2006

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    Gassy Jack's gassy ass
    4 more images

    As the oldest part of Vancouver, Gastown has some historic charm. It exemplifies what you'd think of old western towns to be like. Nevermind that it is outrageously touristy, but come to enjoy the ambience and the architecture. It brings you back in time just a bit. Just try to mentally block out all the tourist traps and envision how lovely Gastown must have been back in the day.

    I had never actually been to Gastown until recently (Jan '06), after more trips to Vancouver than I can count. The mass-tourism never appealed to me and I simply had no interest, but I am finally glad that I saw this part of the city. Come on, who can resist walking along cobblestone streets? (Driving on them is another story and you're entirely entitled to curse your head off) Then there's the silly steam clock that shoots its top off and way more western-wear paraphernalia than you could ask for. Gimme a Yeeeee haw.

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  • PinkFloydActuary's Profile Photo

    Good shopping and food

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Sep 5, 2005
    Entrance to Gastown

    Gastown is an area of the city that has been restored over the years and continues to rise from the tough times it used to be in. There are plenty of little cafes, good restaurants, and souvenier shops to stop off at. Driving looked like a nightmare in this area, so drop off your car somewhere, and explore the area on foot.

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  • Webboy's Profile Photo

    Gastown Steam Clock

    by Webboy Updated Aug 31, 2005
    Gastown Steam Clock

    The Gastown Steam Clock can be found on Water St.

    It is very easy to find. It seems to be on route for many buses in the area. We managed to get to it by using the Vancouver Trolley cars.

    Built by Raymond Saunders in 1977 the Gastown Steam Clock is apparently the only working Steam Clock in the world. It is worth a look. It sounds every 15 minutes and if you look closely you can see all the working mechanisms inside.

    It can however be tricky to get a decent photo because of the number of people around it also trying to take photos.

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  • johno6's Profile Photo

    Park and Walk

    by johno6 Written Aug 6, 2005

    Tourist Trap Warning!!! That said it makes for a fun walk with lots of people, shops, and outdoor cafes so it is defiantly worth the time to see. Watch out how for you stroll out of Gastown, we turned a corner and there were a lot of homeless in the area.

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  • el_ruso's Profile Photo

    Gastown

    by el_ruso Written Jul 6, 2005

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    This rather touristy area features refurbished buildings from turn of the century. It is safe, full of pubs and shops. The downside is that it is touristy, and most of these buildings were not outstanding examples of architecture. Area to the east and south of Gastown is rather dodgy.

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  • joanj's Profile Photo

    "Gassy" Jack

    by joanj Updated Jun 22, 2005

    Gastown had its origins when Edward Stamp built a sawmill on the shores of Burrard Inlet in 1886, taking advantage of the surrounding forest and easy access to water transportation.

    Gastown is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, an English sailer noted both for his endless chatter and for the saloon he opened for the local sawmill workers in 1867.

    You can see the Statue of "Gassy" Jack at the corner of Carrall and Water streets.

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  • ylisa's Profile Photo

    Gastown

    by ylisa Written Jun 16, 2005

    Historical district . The tour bus stops here . Get out and have a look . Great place to shop and eat . Cobblestone streets and great people- watching . I spent sometime and then walked alittle further to where the cruise ships came in . Ended up picking up the tour bus from the pier .

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