Gastown and My Final Explorations
After my extremely interesting walking tour of the Downtown East Side I decided to round out my exploration of the city with another bicycling trip. In my mind, bicycling is just the perfect way to discover a city, it gives you greater range than walking, you don’t need to wait around for buses, and you get exercise at the same time -bonus!
I realized that I had not even seen Gastown yet, which gave me a perfect excuse for another round of exploring. I went to Spokes Bicycle Rentals again, talked to Phil who had been so helpful to me on Saturday in my exploration of Stanley Park and off I went for another few hours, to see just a bit more of Vancouver before I had to leave. I decided to ride back to the Downtown East Side since I wasn’t able to take any photos during the walking tour. I rode along the waterfront trail past Canada Place and the Harbour Centre to the east side of town.
The Sun Tower
I closely retraced my steps from this morning’s walking tour on the bicycle and took some pictures of some of the buildings along the way. One place that definitely stood out was the Sun Tower, a building created between 1911 and 1912 that used to be the headquarters of the Vancouver Sun. I rode through Chinatown again, which still had such an unusually orderly and organized feel to it.
Then I explored Gastown, one of Vancouver’s most historic areas. Its founding father was a loquacious saloon owner: John “Gassy Jack” Deighton, who, in 1867, built a saloon near the corner of Carrall and Water Streets to profit from the local lumber mill workers and gold prospectors on their way to the Yukon. By the 1870s, Gastown was a multicultural community, complete with saloons, hotels and grocery stores, brought into town because Vancouver had been chosen as the Canadian Pacific Railroad terminus.
“Gassy Jack” with Storeyum promoters
By 1886 it had 1,000 buildings and 3,000 residents. Then, in 1886, a blaze broke out and burned the town to the ground. Although destroying the town, this fire started the biggest building boom in West Coast history. After an economic decline in the early part of the 20th century, Gastown became a virtual backwater from the 1930s to 1950s until a group of local merchants and property owners put it back on the map in the 1960s by renovating the historic buildings and turning them into one of the city’s top tourist attractions.
Vancouver’s famous Steam Clock