Monday, March 12, 2012

Chinatown History

Many of the photos I have shown you were taken in the Chinatown area and there is a good reason for that. It is apparently one of the oldest Chinatown's in North America and the third largest.
Our Chinatown can trace its roots back to the late 1800s when Chinese immigrants arrived to work in BC mines and on the railroad. These new residents were placed in a ghetto at the edge of the city but that area didn't stay a ghetto for long. Soon it became a center for Chinese culture and home to markets, gardens and temples. If you want a good Chinese meal then one of the restaurants that serve traditional food may be what you are looking for.

The approximate boundaries for Chinatown, as set out by the city, are the alley between Pender and Hastings streets, Georgia, Gore and Taylor streets. (Unofficially though the boundaries stretch well into the downtown eastside.) The main hubs of commercial business are Main, Pender and Keefer streets.

This large, historic area is a popular tourist attraction though it did go into a decline when members of the Chinese Cantonese community dispersed to other areas in the city and it has more recently been overshadowed by the growing, new Chinese businesses in Richmond.

At one time neon lights lit up the evening sky in Chinatown but changing times a city by law passed in 1974 prohibiting these signs have seen the neon disappear. The last to go was a glowing rice bowl and chopsticks that belonged to the Ho Ho restaurant and it came down in 1997. Some of these signs are in a local museum.
I am happy to report though that Vancouver's Chinatown has been experiencing more prosperity. New investments are coming in and old traditional businesses are flourishing. The Vancouver office of one of four Chinese daily newspapers, Sing Tao Daily, remains in Chinatown and from 2003 until 2010 the offices of OMNI British Columbia had its television studios on Pender Street in Chinatown. (Now it is the home of the Vancouver Film Studio Game Design Campus)

Personally I find myself getting out of sorts if I don't walk through Chinatown occasionally. The noises and smells and sights used to be an assault on my psyche but now I embrace them

I hope you find the beauty around you.

, , , , , ,


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Love your posts- as a displaced Vancouverite they keep me in touch with the city I love and miss so much. As for the Kingsway blog a few weeks ago, Kingsway used to be called Westminster Avenue: if you go to the South or Northeast corner of either 10th or 11th (not sure which) and Kingsway you will see "Westminster" (Ave) cast in an original corner section of the sidewalk, as it was customary to cast the street name and date the sidewalk was built. I always thought that was pretty interesting- possibly the only remaining artifact of that era of Kingsway. It may be gone now, last time I was there was almost 4 years ago.