Friday, January 16, 2009

Map of Downtown Vancouver

The other night I made an "enhanced" map of Downtown Vancouver's neighbourhoods and districts, just for fun. (Yes, I make maps for fun)!

Map of Downtown Vancouver
(Click to zoom in)

So why did I bother?

Downtown Vancouver has a variety of neighbourhoods and districts, but their boundaries are fluid and non-defined.

Visitors often inquire about the best places to stay in Vancouver, where they should visit, where they should avoid, etc. The responses vary of course, but my typical reply is something akin to this:

Best places to stay (in my opinion) are around Robson Street, by English Bay in the West End, in Yaletown, by Coal Harbour, or along False Creek.

While the cruise ship terminal is located at Canada Place, it tends to be more of a business district and pretty much a dead zone after 5pm, which is why I rarely recommend staying there. Plus, the hotels there tend to be overpriced.

Gastown and Chinatown are fine to visit during the morning or afternoon, but due to the proximity of the Downtown Eastside, it can be rather gritty and especially uninspiring at night. Chinatown especially closes down at night (with exception to its Night Market in the summer months). Definitely avoid that stretch of Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside - it's not so much dangerous, but it's home to the city's drug addicts, homeless, and desolute.

If you can stay closer to the West End or Stanley Park as much as possible, you'll experience more of the local community/leisurely experience. Not only that, but there are beaches nearby and the seawall. The best sunset can be experienced from English Bay.

Robson Street (between Seymour and Bute) is home to the mainstream retail shopping and dining experience. Davie Village is the heart of the city's gay community in the West End and has many restaurants, shops, and services for the locals. Denman Street is great for hole-in-the-wall ethnic eateries. Granville Street (between Drake and Robson) is home to the city's generic nightclubs/cheap pizza joints/tattoo parlours/hostels/alternative shops... and tends to be a bit seedy, especially around Helmcken. Nightlife tends to cater to college kids. Don't stay there unless you want to be awake until 2am. Yaletown is great if you're after a more trendy, yuppy, upscale boutique shopping/dining experience - the nightlife there caters to 25+ age range.

But often these neighbourhoods aren't often depicted on maps, so people know where they should visit and where they should avoid, but they don't know what streets and intersections these neighbourhoods encompass.

So as a former geography student, I figure there was a need for a map that truly outlined these areas. Using Google Maps, I took the map into Photoshop and roughly outlined the core of these neighbourhoods.

Perhaps somebody out there will find it useful. :)


SentimentalLady said...

Thanks! I always wondered where "Vancouver's gritty downtown east side" was. Yours was #1 on Google.

Robyn said...

And so it is!

You're welcome by the way. :) So many people like to warn visitors about the Downtown Eastside without actually specifying where it is. I figured it was about time to change that!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this guide. It's really helpful planning our 1st. trip to Vancouver. :)