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GastownVancouver

The birthplace of Vancouver is full of old-world charm with cobbled streets, Victorian buildings, and a unique steam-powered clock. 

Gastown grew up around a tavern, which opened in 1867 to service thirsty sawmill workers and visiting sailors. The bar owner was John “Gassy Jack” Deighton, so called because of his talkative nature.

As the nearest pub was more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) away, Deighton’s establishment became the heart of the small town in what was mostly wilderness on Canada’s west coast. Both the fledgling town, which took it’s name from Gassy Jack, and the watering hole prospered thanks to the sawmill and the seaport, and would become the world-class city of Vancouver.

After the global Great Depression of the 1930s, the neighborhood hit hard times. The city had expanded westward and changed its name to Vancouver, and Gastown was largely forgotten. In fact, it became so rundown that there were calls for the neighborhood to be torn down. A large public campaign organized by property owners and local businesses managed to persuade the provincial government to spare Gastown from the wrecking ball in the 1970s.

The area has benefited from a major regeneration program and gentrification, and today is a happy confluence of old town history and modern day urban chic.

It may not be the heart of the city anymore, but Gastown has retained its character with cobblestone streets and old buildings, many of which are more than a hundred years old.

Many of those original buildings are now home to bars and restaurants. Enjoy fine dining — from Italian, to French, to Asian-influenced — as well as tap houses with exceptional locally-brewed beer.

Explore this eclectic neighborhood by day and night. Your meandering will take you past nightspots, high fashion boutiques, antique stores and galleries. Several chic home design shops offer elegant, decorative fabrics and tableware from all over the world. Observe the statue of “Gassy Jack” perched atop a whiskey barrel in Maple Tree Square on the site of the area’s first tavern, and there’s a French restaurant on the site of Vancouver’s first jail.

One of the town’s best-known landmarks is its steam-powered clock, which stands on the intersection of Cambie Street and Water Street, and ‘toots’ every 15 minutes. The clock’s timepiece is partially driven by water vapor and while it looks like a Victorian antique, it was actually built in 1977. It was the first of its type ever built. Plaques with information on buildings and landmarks are scattered throughout the town.

Gastown is an easy walk from the surrounding hotel districts, and also accessible by bus or the Skytrain, Vancouver’s rapid transportation system. Parking can be tricky to find during the busy summer tourist season.


Popular places to visit in Gastown

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Image for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Imagine you are in Suzhou, China in this beautifully created urban oasis where architecture, rocks, plants and water provide a peaceful, harmonious setting.

Steam Clock
Image for Steam Clock

Steam Clock

4/5(1 review)

Visit Gastown and see this unique fixture that adds a nostalgic bit of novelty to the historic area with delights for three senses.

Gassy Jack Statue
Image for Gassy Jack Statue

Gassy Jack Statue

4.5/5(3 reviews)

Towns and cities often have founders with military backgrounds. Vancouver, however, has one with more colorful beginnings and an unusual name.  

Top activities in Gastown

The Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour
Image for The Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour

The Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour

NZ$36
Per adult
92% of travellers recommend
Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown
Image for Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown

Food Tour with Tastings in Historic Gastown

NZ$106
Per adult
90% of travellers recommend
Chinatown Culinary & Cultural Tour with Dim Sum Lunch
Image for Chinatown Culinary & Cultural Tour with Dim Sum Lunch

Chinatown Culinary & Cultural Tour with Dim Sum Lunch

NZ$123
Per adult
94% of travellers recommend
Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program
Image for Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program

Vancouver's Attraction Passport & Experience Program

NZ$24
Per adult
Vancouver Brewery Tour
Image for Vancouver Brewery Tour

Vancouver Brewery Tour

NZ$108
Per adult
100% of travellers recommend
2hr Bike Rental
Image for 2hr Bike Rental

2hr Bike Rental

NZ$23
Per adult

Top hotels in Gastown

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
4 out of 5
550 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
Free cancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is NZ$217 per night

Located in Gastown, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Canada Place, Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Vancouver Convention Centre. Robson Street ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (996 reviews)

"Clean Quiet Room with comfy bed. Great location downtown."…"

Reviewed on 31 Jul. 2020

Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites
Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
2.5 out of 5
435 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC
Free cancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is NZ$140 per night

Located in Gastown, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Simon Fraser University - Downtown and Pacific Centre Shopping Mall. Vancouver Convention ...

3.9/5Good! (998 reviews)

"Good location, nice shower, very nice/accommodating staff."…"

Reviewed on 16 Jul. 2020

Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown
Skwachàys Lodge
Skwachàys Lodge
2.5 out of 5
31 West Pender, Vancouver, BC
The price is NZ$194 per night

Located in Gastown, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Rogers Arena and Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Vancouver Waterfront ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (901 reviews)

"Rick was an amazing host. Very friendly, helpful, personable and made us feel at home. He answered all our questions and we were impressed with his recommendations."…"

Reviewed on 14 Mar. 2020

Skwachàys Lodge
Cambie Hostel Gastown
Cambie Hostel Gastown
2 out of 5
310 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC

Located in Gastown, this hostel is within a 5-minute walk of Vancouver Waterfront, Granville Street and Harbour Centre. Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Canada Place ...

3/5 (323 reviews)

"The location is primo. Staff are awesome. The vibe there is definitely upbeat. Loved the sense of security. As a female travelling alone I appreciated the female only dorm and bathroom option. Breakfast is the bomb. Recommend the veggie eggs benny."…"

Reviewed on 3 Nov. 2019

Cambie Hostel Gastown
Sterling Suites - Gastown
Sterling Suites - Gastown
27 Alexander Street, Vancouver, BC

Located in Gastown, this condo is within a 10-minute walk of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Granville Street. Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Rogers ...

5/5Exceptional! (2 reviews)

"Really cute place in scenic Gastown. We've never been to Vancouver so we didn't know it was kind of close to E Hastings but it was okay. Very modern rustic style to the apartment. Host was AMAZING at communication. Every question I had got answered within 5 minutes. We had an issue with Wifi and ..."…"

Reviewed on 10 Jul. 2020

Sterling Suites - Gastown
Stay at Vancouver's Iconic Residential Tower
Stay at Vancouver's Iconic Residential Tower
128 W Cordova St, Suite 2604, Vancouver, BC

Located in Gastown, this historic condo is within a 5-minute walk of Vancouver Waterfront and Granville Street. Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Rogers Arena are ...

5/5Exceptional! (19 reviews)
Nice condo in newer building

"We were there for a month (mid-August to mid-September). Don and Sandra were pleasant and attentive. The unit was super clean with a nice view of the Burrard Inlet. We walked and rode bikes everywhere; what a great city!"…"

Reviewed on 24 Sep. 2019

Stay at Vancouver's Iconic Residential Tower

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