Chinatown, a commercial (and increasingly residential) neighbourhood within the Downtown Eastside, has been one of Vancouver’s most vibrant areas since the City’s beginnings. It got its start as a ghetto on the edge of the Granville Townsite in the late 1880′s, when scores of Chinese immigrants arrived to work BC’s mines and build its railroads. The institutional racism of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923 and the anti-animated neon signage laws of 1974 did little to curb its vibrancy, and today it is home to an eclectic mix of traditional and trendy eateries, markets (both day and night), gardens, temples, and a wide assortment of businesses ranging from tea shops and apothecaries to art galleries and vintage stores. Its borders are squared roughly by Abbott/Taylor (west), Gore (east), Pender (north), and Keefer/East Georgia (south). The 200 block of Union St. (between Main and Gore) is technically part of Chinatown, but we count the section east of its alleyway as a part of Strathcona.
Blue/Orange facades of Ho Sun Hing Printers & Fresh Egg Mart on East Georgia; the leafiness of Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Gardens; omnipresent decorative red and gold; freshly horked old man loogie; marinated eggplant with soy, garlic, and ginger at Bao Bei; stinky summer fish gut puddle; dead alleyway pigeon tri-colour; dried tokay gecko on a stick.
DEAD LIZARDS FOR YOUR PENIS*
$8.99 (AND CHEAPER) HAIRCUTS
EXCELLENT PARADES WITH BAGPIPES & DRAGONS
THE RENNIE COLLECTION AT WING SANG
A LITTLE QUIET SOLITUDE AT DR. SUN-YAT SEN GARDEN
OUT OF THE ORDINARY ANTIQUES
THE OCCASIONAL RAT
PRESENTS FOR YOUR MOM
GAMES OF POOL AT THE LONDON PUB
THE VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE KEEFER PARKADE
AN UNSUSTAINABLE AMOUNT OF MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES
SWEET VINTAGE AT DUCHESSE
THE NICE GUYS AT THE SHOP
THE PLAZA SKATEPARK
SUPPLIES FOR LIQUOR LOVERS
A WHOLE LOTTA PIGEONS
LEATHER BAGS AT ERIN TEMPLETON
THE JIMI HENDRIX SHRINE
* the dried lizards (tokay geckos) are a traditional Chinese medicine for impotence, tuberculosis, and asthma.
MARINATED EGGPLANT (OR PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING) AT BAO BEI
APOTHECARY COCKTAILS AT THE KEEFER BAR
LATE NIGHT FRIED RICE AT GAIN WAH
ICE CREAM SANDWICHES FROM SCENT OF A SANDWICH
BBQ DUCK AT MONEY FOODS
COFFEE & CINNAMON TOAST AT MATCHSTICK
APPLE PIE FROM THE PIE SHOPPE
CHICKEN WINGS & GARLIC PRAWNS AT PHNOM PENH
THE BURGER AT MAMIE TAYLOR’S
PORK BUNS AT NEW TOWN BAKERY
SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM FROM PRIME TIME CHICKEN
POTATO TORNADOES AT THE NIGHT MARKET
PORK THURINGER CURRYWURST AT BESTIE
- The oldest standing structure in Chinatown is the Wing Sang Building on Pender, built in 1889 by Chinatown pioneer Yip Sang.
- Market Alley, spanning from Main Street and Carrall between Hastings and Pender, was a turn-of-the-century hotspot for opium production, gambling, and after-hours debauchery.
- Dr. Sun Yet-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was the first of its kind to be constructed outside of China.
- Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest in Canada and one of the largest in North America.
- A city ordinance was passed in 1937 that prohibited Chinese-owned restaurants from employing white women. In 1939, city council amended the law to permit white waitresses in Chinatown restaurants that served “English meals to English customers”.
If you and yours are looking to get your cozy on over the holidays, pay the girls at Duchesse a visit for some sweet blanket hook ups (430 Columbia off East Pender).