All about Chinatown
Chinatown is one of the largest cultural areas of its kind in North America and is a major tourist attraction. Today, Chinatown has flourished as a mix of new investments and old traditional buildings make Chinatown a unique area of Greater Vancouver. Chinatown has since increased in the amount of businesses in the area with the introduction of new and old traditional restaurants, tea shops, retail stores, marketplaces, clinics and banks. The area is suitable for both tourists and the local community thanks to the revitalization efforts set by the City of Vancouver.
History of Chinatown
Chinatown was once a community of Chinese-Cantonese residents until the 1980’s where newer Chinese-Cantonese immigrants moved to a newer Chinese cultural district along No.3 Road in the District of Richmond. Since the 1980’s, many Taiwanese and Hong Kong immigrants moved into Chinatown. In addition, Chinatown has flourished with several Chinese-Ethnic restaurants and retail stores. Although “The Golden Village” in Richmond, by the non-Chinese and Chinese residents proposal to rename that area the new “Chinatown”, Chinatown still remains a major tourist attraction and has several historic landmarks. Most noticeably is the “China Gate”, a huge gate hovering above Pender Street, which was donated by the People’s Republic of China after the Expo 86’ World Fair. Chinatown is also home to Lord Strathcona Elementary School, the oldest public school in Greater Vancouver and the Sam Kee Building, the narrowest commercial building in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Chinatown was also once known for the neon signs but unfortunately was removed due to a city bylaw in 1974. The last of these signs to be removed in 1997 was the “Ho Ho” sign which showed chop sticks and a bowl of rice. Today, Chinatown is in revitalization, meaning that the City of Vancouver is trying to maintain the area which has since been considered an area of low-income residents. The revitalization effort includes the hiring of private security to maintain the safety of the area and the ongoing efforts to restore historic buildings and the community.
Geography of Chinatown
Chinatown’s official boundaries are the alley between Pender and Hastings Street surrounded by Downtown Vancouver and Gastown. Although Chinatown extends well into the Downtown Eastside, most of its principle area of activity is on Main Street, Pender Street and Keefer Street.