The world's first steam clock, the Gastown Steam Clock was built by horologist and sculptor Raymond Saunders In 1977. Based on an 1875 design, this tuneful timepiece with Its Intricate orchestration of parts draws crowds of fascinated tourists from around the world for its quarter-hourly performance. Apparently however it is no longer actually operating by steam. It's a nice little attraction but I would recommend Gastown more for its cobblestone streets, gift shops and proximity to the water front.
Established the same year that Canada became a nation, Gastown grew into Canada’s third largest city and one of its most cosmopolitan. But the Gastown district today retains its historic charm, independent spirit and distinctiveness. There’s no mistaking Gastown for any other area of Vancouver, or of Canada for that matter.
I have also provided a good web site where you will find qaulity information on the history of Gastown and its buildings.
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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.
Even though it now ranks as the third largest city in Canada, Vancouver is still fairly young. Its origins can be traced back to the area called "Gastown", Vancouver's most historic district. In 1867, "Gassy Jack" Deighton opened up a saloon near a lumber mill and just like that, a city was born! For a few decades, Gastown remained at the heart of the new city of Vancouver but when businesses started moving away to new areas, practically the entire district was left to fall into disrepair. In the 1960s, a group of citizens got together to save and restore Gastown, which has now become a very popular tourist attraction.
Gastown is basically one street (Water Street) lined with historical brick and stone buildings dating back to the end of the 19th century (all of the town's wooden buildings were destroyed in the great fire of 1886). Most of them are now filled with restaurants and souvenir shops. Another big attraction seems to be the Gastown Steam Clock around which people gather to take pictures and hear it whistle every quarter hours (the clock was added in 1977 when the area was restored). But for me the most interesting thing to do in Gastown was to go on the free guided walking tour which runs every day at 2:00 pm, from June 15 to August 30 (tours start near the statue of Gassy Jack, at the corner of Water and Carrall St). The tour was 90 min long and our guide was very interesting, giving us plenty of information about the area's history and architecture, and he kept on with the tour even when rain started pouring down!
One thing to keep in mind while visiting Gastown is that the rather infamous Downtown Eastside area begins not far from the corner of Water and Carrall St. Nothing to keep you from visiting Gastown, but you might not want to venture too far out up Carrall St.
Gastown can be regarded as the old historic center of Vancouver. It has a nice atmosphere, although it is a really touristy place and is hardly more than 1 street, being Waterstreet. The main attraction of Gastown is the steamclock which runs on steam. Every quarter of an hour the steamwhistles blow to produce the melody of the London Big Ben chimes.
Another (minor) attraction is the statue of Gassy Jack, the founder of Gastown, which stands in Gastown’s Maple Tree Square at the east end of Water Street. It was this Gassy Jack who first landed here and built a saloon in 1897.
Gastown lies north-east of downtown Vancouver. In between these two areas you will find the waterfront "Canada Place" (IMAX theatre, conventioncenter and nice viewpoints), the Vancouver Lookout tower and the tourist information center.
A stop on our tour of Vancouver was at Gastown, the area where Vancouver was founded in 1867.
Gastown has been renovated, and is a little touristy. The streets are cobbled, and the Victorian buildings have been restored, and look resplendant. Malls, street vendors, souvenir shops and more!
Probably, the main attraction would be the Gastown Steam Clock, this one was the WORLD'S 1ST STEAM CLOCK, and was originally built to cover a steam vent to prevent street people from sleeping on the spot in cold weather.
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.
It weights 2 ton, and the clock whistles every 15 minutes.
I was walking towards Gastown - I'd heard of it and never ventured there until this particular day and came across a very nice artist called Sam Logan - who was selling the most striking paintings I'd come across....so I bought three!!!
Check out his website and I recommend you pop down and see if you can spot him and his fab paintings........www.gastownsam.com/
We visited the Tourist Information Office and they told us about a free walking tour around Gastown. We made our way to the meeting point and a young man took us on a one hour tour, stopping in front of the various buildings and giving us the history.
It is interesting to know that the original buildings were timber and completly destroyed in the great fire of 1886. We were told Vancouver does not have buildings prior to this date and that is the reason the city is so well laid out.
Gastown is really a tourist precinct with restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops occupying most of the old buildings. You will see the Steam Clock puffing smoke as you walk along the pavement, the monument to Gassy Jack, Goalers Mews , the Hotel Europe built like the Flatiron Building in New York City.
Walking the streets you will love the hanging baskets of flowers you see on the lamp poles. Enjoy Gastown and have a nice meal when you visit.
The oldest part of Vancouver is Gastown. The main intersection is Maple Tree Square and here the road is bricked too look like cobbles and there are banners on the old fashioned looking lamp posts. There's a statue of "Gassy" Jack who was the founder of Gastown. He was called this because he talked so much! There is a little café in the building just behind his statue , that's the cafe where the picture on my main Vancouver page was taken.
A little further along is the famous steam clock which is run by the steam. It "steams" constantly but blows a big cloud of it when it chimes every 15 minutes. There were a lot of souvenir shops along this street, including some that featured some amazing west coast native art, you could even buy yourself a totem pole for about $15,000!
The Gastown area of Vancouver was named after John Deighton, nicknamed Gassy Jack. Gassy Jack (a Yorkshire-born saloon owner) showed up with a barrel of whisky on the south shore of Burrard Inlet, and told the mill workers there they could have all the whisky they could drink if they helped him build his saloon-which they did. It only took 24 hours. There are a few bars in the area and I was told it is not the best part of town to be in at night but you won’t have any problems during the day. You can hear the Gastown Steam Clock whistle every hour on the hour.
Gastown is an interesting collection of shops and restaurants in the old historical district where the city first set it's roots. Complete with cobblestone streets and historical features (steam clock and statue of gassy Jack to name two). If you can overlook the tourist traps (souvenir shops) and enjoy one of the good restaurants or specialty shops (lots of artists here), then gastown is a nice way to spend a part of the day.
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