Yaletown actually had very humble beginnings. It was actually the Canadian Pacific Railway that had a huge influence on what Yaletown was to become. By the 1880s the line had reached Yale in the Fraser Canyon and this area served as the center of repair, housing and shopping for the rail worker population. When the railway reached Vancouver, this hub of Railway workers moved too and thus Yaletown was named. For years, the area was primarily used for heavy industry with many rail buildings and warehouses being built, many of which are still there today. After many boom and bust cycles, Yaletown suffered becoming a shoddy, contaminated industrialized area. The City of Vancouver then stepped in and bought up all the land. After being used as the site for the 1986 World's Fair, the whole area became ripe for development. The site was sold to a Hong Kong based developer which set into motion the redevelopment which continues to this day.
Using some excellent growth planning, the City of Vancouver imposed strict guidelines on the development of Yaletown, requiring many of the original heritage buildings to be preserved and to set aside generous areas for parks, waterfront access, community centres and schools. This includes the southern boundary of Yaletown being the Stanley Park Seawall allowing you to bike, run, rollerblade or stroll all the way to Stanley Park.
As the majority of the original shack like housing has long since been removed, several of the older buildings from the 19th century industrial days still remain. Hamelton Street and Mainland Street are the most significant. They are lined with handsome brick warehouses built on the old rail platforms which have been converted to very hip loft style apartments, condos and offices. At street level a wide range of boutique stores, bars and restaurants are available, many with stylish cantilevered canopies to keep you dry in the winter and cool in the summer when enjoying the patios. Close by, at the Davie Street and Pacific Boulevard junction, the old Canadian Pacific Roundhouse has been converted into the Roundhouse Community Center which uses the old turntable for the engines as an outdoor amphitheatre featuring all kinds of entertainment.
Modern Yaletown is now a mix of some of the best high-rise accommodations in the world. With many of the buildings featuring views of the North Shore mountains, of Stanley Park, of False Creek, of Coal Harbour, of English Bay and more, chic, convenient, hip condo living has never been better. Adding to this glass and concrete decor is the ease at which you can access downtown and surrounding areas. With plenty of SkyTrain Stations, pedestrian malls and bus service to anywhere you want to go, if you come to Yaletown, leave your car at home, you really don't need it.
Find what you are looking for on your next visit to Vancouver. Find it in Yaletown.