Gastown was Vancouver's original downtown core. It got its name after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, an entrepreneur who, in 1867, saw an opportunity and opened the first saloon next to the Granville saw mill. The saloon burnt down in the Great Vancouver fire of 1886, but was rebuilt in the same location. Gassy Jack can still be found watching over the site from his statue outside.
Nearly a hundred years later, the historic buildings of Gastown were slated for demolition to make room for a new freeway that would run through downtown Vancouver. This sparked an uproar with residents, who pushed hard to save to the area's architecture and character. In 1971 the Gastown District became a provincial historical site, protecting the area's buildings from demolition.
Today, Gastown is a mix of entrepreneurs' and architects' studios with fashion boutiques, high end interior furnishing shops, galleries, restaurants and nightclubs. You can easily spend a day here, starting with brunch and ending with post-dinner drinks, perusing the shops and galleries all day.