Vancouver’s east side is a mosaic of neighborhoods combining a unique mix of people, history, land use and architecture. Over the last several years young upwardly moving people seeking affordable housing close to the city have been purchasing and renovating homes and creating community minded enclaves. Redevelopment has occurred at a steady pace contributing to the revitalization of these areas while keeping their character intact.
Gastown was nearly bulldozed in the 1970s, luckily it was saved by the people of Vancouver conscious of the importance of that landmark. Gassy Jack Deighton who opened Gastown’s first bar in 1867, when he became aware that the mill on Dunlevy Avenue employed a lot of thirsty workers, would be pleased to see that the night life in the area is still alive and well. Locals and tourists coming off the cruise ships bound for Alaska or back to California have their pick of fine restaurants, should they wish to end their meal with a fine Cuban cigar the shop is right there on Water street. For those more inclined towards shopping, high end clothing boutiques custom made sofas and First Nation souvenirs awaits them.
Chinatown, the largest in Canada and the second largest in North America is a vibrant authentic ethnic community. Once you cross the gate on Shanghai Alley and Pender exotic sounds, smells and sights welcome you. The sidewalks are busy, sounds of mahjong games and music practice echo in the streets, cooking odors drift from the restaurants and the sidewalk displays are laden with produce, dried fish and household goods. Doctor Sun Yat-Sen garden, the only authentic Chinese garden outside of China, offers an oasis of serenity.
Commercial Drive, once called the mini United Nations, prides itself on it’s bohemian personality. On Commercial Drive the spirit of the family-owned restaurant where real authentic food can be found, is alive, the small shops where you can chat with the owner while you make your purchases, the cafes where you can listen to a poetry reading while sipping your cappuccino brings you back to gentler times. Bocce ball tournaments, small galleries exhibiting budding artists, it’s all there in Little Italy and should you want to leave your mark for posterity you can do so on the wall of Little Havana restaurant where diners are invited to carve their name on the wall.
Main Street Corridor: If Commercial drive is called the mini United Nation Main street should be dubbed where East meets West. The ethnically diverse residential area has become a popular neighborhood with the upwardly mobile young professionals. While Ikea, Gap and Earl’s can be easily found on the mainland, the funky young urbanite influence is apparent on the Main street corridor with shops catering to a clientele with eclectic tastes. Funky vintage clothing shops, unique accessories and home furnishing boutiques abound . Lazy Saturday mornings can be spent on Antique Row between 16th and 25th looking for the treasure that would look perfect in your home. Restaurants and food shops reflect the multicultural influence, Italian, Asian, South American and Punjabi. On Main Street the expression "variety is the spice of life" is vibrantly obvious.
The east end area is vast, varied and constantly improving. Changes in the community affect the demand for community facilities such as schools, recreation centers and parks. A variety of housing types suitable for a range of incomes and household are available. Styles range from century heritage homes to small stucco bungalows. Low-rises, high-rises, duplexes are situated in vibrant neighborhoods each keeping it’s individuality yet blending together to create an exciting and varied area to live in.