The Vancouver Art Gallery’s steps on Robson St. It would hardly be an original observation to point out that a simple set of steps can become a well-used hangout. One of the world’s most famous public spaces is, after all, known as the Spanish Steps. But for all their ubiquity, only some steps become popular […]

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A Night Market in a Suburban Parking Lot

You can’t find an urban tradition more firmly rooted in Asia’s cities than the night market. Since emerging in Tang dynasty China, about 1,200 years ago, they have become a quintessential part of the urban experience in Taiwan, Hong Kong and throughout Southeast Asia. In Taiwan, night markets are so firmly rooted they have spawned […]

Through the Door

Toy surname association, East Georgia St. Single room occupancy hotel, East Georgia St. Greeting card and lai see shop, Pender St.

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Rebuilding Woodwards

For as long as I have been visiting Vancouver, the abandoned Woodwards department store has loomed over the Downtown Eastside, a hulking reminder of the neighbourhood’s long decline into commercial and social oblivion. For more than a decade, developers and government squabbled over what to do with the site. In 2002, an organized squat took […]

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The Concrete Charm of Joyce Station

It was a dull, overcast day when I decided to take the SkyTrain a few extra stops east to Joyce Station, in the East Vancouver neighbourhood of Collingwood. I’m not sure what I expected, but I wasn’t entirely disappointed. I emerged from the station onto Joyce Street’s commercial strip, dominated almost entirely by Chinese and […]

Vancouver Decorates Its Sidewalks

Don’t talk to my friend Sam about sidewalk decoration. He’ll snort and expound upon the many ways in which it’s useless. I take a more sympathetic position towards it: I think it enhances the pedestrian experiences, especially if the decoration combines aesthetic or artistic value with practical or historical information. At its best, it creates […]

Vancouver Furnishes Its Sidewalks

Downtown Vancouver has an abundance of high-quality new street furniture, thanks in large part to a proactive planning department that gives developers density bonuses in exchange for public amenities. So far, developers have paid for countless water features, a good number of parks, social housing, a permanent home for the Vancouver International Film Festival and […]

Five Minutes at Burrard and Robson

Robson and Burrard, Vancouver’s busiest corner

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Home Sweet Flophouse

A single-room occupancy hotel in Vancouver Today’s Guardian features an article on a new generation of Japanese — most of them young men — unable to afford homes. They spend their days either unemployed or working at menial jobs; at night, they float between 24-hour internet cafés and capsule hotels. “According to a recent government […]

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Signs of Chinatown

In a city whose urban landscape sometimes seems too neat, too standardized, too inorganic, Vancouver’s Chinatown is a refreshing enclave of clutter, unabashed commerce and grime: visible signs of human occupation. One of my favourite things about it is the multitude of signs, layers upon layers of them. Above are just a few examples found […]

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After Dinner on Denman Street

Denman is one of my favourite streets in Vancouver. Maybe it’s the seaside resort feel, drawing you past cafés, restaurants and gelaterias to the beach at English Bay. The palm trees next to the beach only reinforce the holiday feel. Like the rest of Vancouver’s West End, Denman Street was laid out at the end […]

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Laneway Decor

Ghost sign behind East Hastings near Gore Posters behind Pender near Seymour Graffiti behind West Hastings near Richards

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Kiu Yick Book Shop

East Pender Street near Gore

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Sunset at English Bay

Every clear summer evening, as the sun starts to slide below the horizon, masking the mountains near Howe Sound in hazy layers of blue and purple, thousands of people flock to English Bay. The sunset, spectacular as it may be, is just a backdrop to their conversations, their laughter, their whispers and kisses. Each evening, […]

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