Yaletown & False Creek North - Vancouver Neighbourhood Realtors Choice
As with much of Vancouver, the Canadian Pacific Railway had a huge influence on the shaping of Yaletown. By the 1880s, the line had reached Yale, a small gold-rush town 150 or so miles to the east which served as the location of the company repair shops, and housed a sizeable rail worker population. As the line was extended to Vancouver, these Yale residents followed it to the city, and settled in modest housing close to the yards which was soon dubbed Yaletown.
As the years progressed, the proximity of False Creek and the railway meant that Yaletown became heavily industrial. Many factories, rail buildings and warehouses were built, many of which survive to this day. Yaletown is an area of downtown Vancouver approximately bordered by False Creek, Robson, and Homer Streets.
Formerly a heavy industrial area dominated by warehouses and rail yards, since the 1986 World's Fair, it has been transformed into one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in the city. After the real-estate boom and bust cycles of the 20th century, the area became shoddy and contaminated, and was bought up by the city. The marinas, parks, high rise apartment blocks, and converted heritage buildings constitute one of the most successful and significant urban regeneration projects in North America.
After the 1986 World's Fair (Expo 86), held on neighbouring former-industrial land, the whole area became ripe for development. The site was sold to a Hong Kong-based developer Li Ka-Shing, setting in motion the dramatic redevelopment process which continues to this day.
From the start, the city planners imposed strict guidelines on the development, in particular requiring a substantial amount of development of the public realm, and sensitive preservation of existing heritage stock. Thus there are generous areas set aside for parks, waterfront access, community centres, and schools. Along the shore of False Creek, the Stanley Park Seawall linear park has been continued through the area forming its southern boundary.
They are lined with handsome brick warehouses built on rail platforms, many with cantilevered canopies. These have been converted into loft style apartments and offices, with boutique stores, bars and restaurants at the ground level. While little or no original housing from the 19th century survives, several older buildings from the industrial days still exist. Hamilton Street and Mainland Street are the most significant, comprising two intact streetscapes from that era. In another tribute to the rail history of the area, it also houses Engine 374, which pulled the first passenger train into Vancouver in 1887. The Yaletown-Roundhouse subway station of the Canada Line is currently under construction at this intersection.
Spilling around the central core of Hamilton and Mainland Streets, most other architecture in Yaletown is newly built on the old derelict yards, the vast majority in a uniform glass and concrete high-rise style, reminiscent of Hong Kong. Most of these buildings are apartment blocks. On False Creek, small pedestrian ferries take passengers to various stops along the creek, including Granville Island, from the dock at the foot of Davie Street.