Vancouver Neighbourhoods, What's What


Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 — 3:42pm PST
Comments 18

Growing up in Surrey I know that when someone tells me they are from Cloverdale or Fleetwood, they’re still really from Surrey. Today I was interviewed by Erin and we discussed the fact that it’s sometimes fun to just state the fancy neighbourhood name when people ask you where you’re from. Panorama Ridge? How lovely!

I came home to find a similar neighbourhood-type discussion on Twitter, between @nickb and @ddonat. Nick, who works with the online creative writing community that is Protagonize, made a comment about the financial district in Vancouver. This lead to a discussion about what is exactly is Vancouver’s financial district and where are the boundaries? What do people consider downtown, midtown, crosstown and all the other ‘towns’ (like Gastown, Chinatown and Yaletown).

A friend told me the other day she was to meet someone in what they described as Yaletown, however she ended up near the Vancouver Sun building on Pender and Beatty. We both agreed, that location was definitely not what we would consider Yaletown.


Photo credit: Kris Krug on Flickr

The Davie Village meets Yaletown at which street – Granville perhaps? Does Coal Harbour turn into the financial district at Burrard? Wiki offers up a nice list of neighbourhoods in Vancouver yet there are also unofficial areas such as Railtown – (Railway street between Gore and Princess but North of Hastings – or perhaps Pender?)

A few years ago it was announced that the official “downtown” of Vancouver was where Burrard meets Dunsmuir, although I’m sure many could argue that title.


Photo credit: Richard Eriksson on Flickr

When I venture out of the West End to meet Duane at Smiley’s I would tell John to meet us “downtown” and in what I would consider the “financial district” since there are so many banks around and the area is pretty deserted on weekends (well it was before Cactus Club opened up anyway).

But then again, did I just come from the West End or the West End at Robson, the West End at Stanley Park, the West End at English Bay or the West End – Davie Village?


Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

We all have our own criteria and although some of the boundaries are clearly laid out, all of these neighbourhoods are on the downtown peninsula of Vancouver and they each have their own style and traits.

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18 comments

  1. The “Yaletown” thing is my biggest Vancouver neighbouhood pet peeve. For me Yaletown is only those few blocks of heritage buildings, shops and restaurants and maybe a couple of blocks west and north of there. It does not cross Pacific in my mind anyways.

  2. Interesting topic. I just finished prewriting a new bunch of new Vancouver Vitals for my blog (for posting this weekend) that cover various Communities of Vancouver. The first will be South Cambie, where I was born literally, and raised. I would say, it really goes by election boundaries, but most people don’t know those do they.

  3. Tyler Ingram says:

    It is pretty confusing. I consider the ‘West End’ to be west of Thurlow but south or Georgia. North of Georgia I would consider that ‘Coal Harbour’ but not going past Granville.

    Yaletown I would say is what like Hamilton and east? The ‘entertainment district’ would be Granville street and Seymour? (thinking of the various bars/clubs/venues).

    Downtown Eastside is well places like East Hastings and north. Cambie seems to be the stop for the east side because its almost like night and day once you’ve crossed Cambie from East Hastings

    I would say the Downtown core would include the Business district. Where the larger office buildings are. If you want to meet me downtown I would say something like Robson + Granville, Burrard + Georgia etc.

  4. Duane Storey says:

    I actually consider “downtown” everything that exists after you’ve crossed the bridges. So to me, it includes everything surrounded by false creek all the way up to coal harbour. That’s how I roll in my head anyways.

    I definitely work in the financial district, and Pender and Beatty is what they call Crosstown now.

  5. kim says:

    I lived 2 doors down from the gorgeous stone churches @ Burrard & Nelson…was I downtown or west end????
    My pet peeve, now that I no longer live in Van is having a conversation about it to someone who has said “Yeah, I lived in Van too!” and mentioning (in longing and nostalgia) my old favorite places and wanting to hear theirs. It almost always inevitable turns out that they lived in Burnaby/Richmond/New West/Surrey.
    Then, no. No my friend, you did NOT “live in Vancouver”.
    There’s a reason that they’re called Burnaby/Richmond/New West/Surrey.
    Grrrrrrrr!

  6. cam c. says:

    It’s pretty funny actually considering that in most sprawling Canadian cities, a single “area” would probably cover as much land as all of downtown Vancouver. For what it’s worth, I don’t personally consider anything south of Pender to be “Coal Harbour”, though…

    I kind of like “financial district” and terms like that as they describe the current state of the region — my sister visiting from Edmonton once told me to meet her in Robson’s “shoe district” and I immediately knew what she meant. (Mind you by that system Robson/Thurlow becomes “the Starbucks District” and the area between Shangri-la and Cielo will soon known as the “Urban Fare District”…)

  7. Dale says:

    @Kim, does that mean you agree with YVR being renamed Richmond International Airport?

    /me ducks 🙂

    I still chuckle (inside, at least) every time I hear the GVRD calling themselves Metro Vancouver.

  8. J.J. says:

    Tracy freaked out when she found out that the place we bought was technically in Newton. I told her no. We’re moving to “Boundary Park”.

  9. Where does uptown become downtown?

  10. Tyler Ingram says:

    @Kim but technically that is ‘Vancouver’ Metro Vancouver anyway. Though I would only say I lived in Vancouver to people who do not know the places such as Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows etc. Though if I did live in ‘Vancouver’ then I would live anywhere West of Boundary, North of SW Marine Drive, and South of the North Shore.

    If they _are_ from the lower mainland then I will say I’m from Pitt Meadows (though still a lot of people don’t know where Pitt Meadows is).

  11. Colleen says:

    I live in Port Coquitlam, and work in Pitt Meadows. In the Lower Mainland I refer to PoCo or maybe Tri-cities as were I live. Outside the Lower Mainland, I just state Vancouver. Its easier than trying to describe where PoCo is.

  12. Steve Jagger says:

    The name of the neighbourhood is what people call it. As an example, I believe I technically live in “Downtown” but I say Yaletown as I’m at Richards and Nelson. So do people who technically live in “False Creek North” – they say Yaletown. The neighbourhood is what the people that live there call it.

  13. kim says:

    @Tyler…. I know what you mean- if you’re outside the Lower Mainland, it’s easier to just say Vancouver. But I’m talking about people who do it when it is clear in the conversation that the other person knows the area well & therefore knows the names//// Drives me nuts!
    @Dale…..oh hell- now that I now longer live there I’m outta the loop!Didn’t even know that was on the table. The funny thing is- after everything I said about keeping the boundaries “precious” I still wouldn’t vote for the name change to Richmond International. I know. I’m an ass.

  14. I know you’re not a fan of our blog. However, this was a great post and props are to be given to you. I have friends from all over the city and when they come to visit, they just simply say downtown.

    @Larry, Uptown technically is between 2nd and 16th ave, as most people (I mean developers) consider downtown to start after 2nd ave. Its confusing as hell.

    @Steve, good point. I don’t think North East False Creek is Yaletown. I might be wrong, but I think the “official” name is North east false creek and the olympic village will be South East False Creek.

  15. Star Anise says:

    Love that photo of Gastown… Really captures the Gastown ambiance

  16. fotoeins says:

    I am proud to say I was raised in and spent 25+ years in Strathcona and the Downtown Eastside.

    Your kilometrage of distinctions among neighbourhood boundaries may vary.

  17. Bob K says:

    I liked the chart that Douglas Coupland cooked up for one of his novels (sorry, can’t remember which one) where he compares each of the neighborhoods in the city to a different international location.

    We’re doing a thing on V.I.A. right now where our contributors flaunt the merits of the areas that they live in. It’s called HOOD WAR and it’s a friendly contest: http://vancouverisawesome.com/?p=1140

  18. […] by neighbourhood, the concept is to grab the deck, give it a shuffle, and draw out a random location when […]

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