Vancouver Icons: Gastown Steam Clock

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Piping out a steamy tune every 15 minutes, it’s one of the most photographed subjects in Vancouver. While locals may look at it with disdain (since it’s not that old and not even steam-powered), visitors absolutely adore it. On this day in 1977, the Gastown Steam Clock was dedicated and so it’s also today’s Vancouver Icons photo feature:

Steam Clock | Gastown Vancouver

Gastown Steam Clock
Photo credit: dcwriterdawn on Flickr

The Steam Clock IMG_3012
Photo credit: Gemy on Flickr

Gastown Steam Clock
Photo credit: Philip Tong on Flickr

Wake Up, City
Photo credit: BillXu Photos on Flickr

Gastown colours at Christmas
Photo credit: {e u g e n e} on Flickr

Magical Steam Clock
Photo credit: dons projects on Flickr

It had started as a solution for the problem of steam venting into the Gastown air from the Central Heat Distribution Plant, which supplies steam to hundreds of downtown buildings . . . and which vents excess steam through manholes here and there throughout the downtown. Jon Ellis, the city’s planner for the Gastown area, had the notion to have clockmaker Ray Saunders devise a steam-powered clock. It’s easily the most-photographed object in Vancouver even if (pssst!) it isn’t really steam-powered and, we learned within the last few years, never was. [Source: Chuck Davis’ Vancouver History]

The Gastown Steam Clock
Photo credit: Ann Hung on Flickr

Inside the steam clock and my reflections
Photo credit: {e u g e n e} on Flickr

Gastown Steam Clock
Photo credit: Patrick Lundgren on Flickr

Gastown Steam Clock
Photo credit: Patrick Logan Photographer on Flickr

Other Vancouver Icons posts include: SFU Burnaby, Commodore Lanes, Siwash Rock, Kitsilano Pool, White Rock Pier, Main Post Office, Planetarium Building, Lord Stanley Statue, Vancouver Library Central Branch, Victory Square, Digital Orca, The Crab Sculpture, Girl in Wetsuit, The Sun Tower, The Hotel Vancouver, The Gassy Jack Statue, The Marine Building, and The Angel of Victory. Should you have a suggestion for the Vancouver Icons series please feel free to leave a note in the comments. It should be a thing, statue, or place that is very visible and recognizable to the public.

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