6 Best Sights in Gastown, Vancouver

Byrnes Block

After the 1886 Great Fire, which wiped out most of the fledgling settlement of Vancouver, George Byrnes built what is now Vancouver's oldest brick building. It now houses shops and offices. But for awhile, this two-story building was Vancouver's top luxury hotel, the Alhambra Hotel, charging a dollar a night. The site of Deighton's original saloon, east of the Byrnes Block, is the starting point from which all Vancouver street addresses begin.

Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery

The collection of First Nations jewelry, ceremonial masks, prints, and carvings at this gallery is impressive. If you're looking for more affordable souvenirs, check out the gorgeous books and art cards.

Gaoler's Mews

Once the site of the city's first civic buildings—the constable's cabin and customs house, and a two-cell log jail—this atmospheric brick-paved courtyard is now home to cafés and offices.

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Gastown Steam Clock

An underground steam system, which also heats many local buildings, supplies the world's first steam clock—possibly Vancouver's most photographed attraction. On the quarter hour, a steam whistle rings out the Westminster chimes, and on the hour a huge cloud of steam spews from the apparatus. The ingenious design, based on an 1875 mechanism, was built in 1977 by Ray Saunders of Landmark Clocks to commemorate the community effort that saved Gastown from demolition. Fun fact: yes, the clock does use steam power, but three electric motors help it run, too.

Hotel Europe

Once billed as the best hotel in the city, this 1908 flatiron building is one of the world's finest examples of triangular architecture. Now used for government-subsidized housing and not open to the public, the building still has its original Italian tile work and lead-glass windows. The glass tiles in the sidewalk on Alexander Street were the former "skylight" for an underground saloon.

The Landing

Built in 1905 with gold-rush money, this elegantly renovated brick warehouse is now home to offices, shops, and Steamworks, a popular brewpub. From the oversized bay window at the rear of the lobby, you can appreciate where the shoreline was 100 years ago, as well as enjoy views of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains.