Vancouver Blog

Discover the Sights and Sounds of Downtown Vancouver


Letting Off Some Steam in Gastown

Every day rain or shine, a crowd of visitors is clustered around Cambie and Water Streets with cameras at the ready, looking up and waiting expectantly for the exact moment to happen. At this intersection is the Gastown Steam Clock, one of Vancouver’s top attractions, which stands 16 ft tall and is made of brass, copper and glass. Although it appears to be Victorian in age, in actual fact, it hasn’t even reached half a century yet. Every hour and quarter hour, a blast of steam as well as musical chimes can be seen and heard respectively in one of Vancouver’s oldest yet trendiest neighborhoods. Spoiler alert: it’s not completely powered by steam but by electric motors! At the very moment when the clock emits the sound of the chimes and the hiss of steam, a flurry of activity ensues from shutterbugs who are snapping pictures furiously or capturing it all on video. And then, as if nothing happened, the crowd dissipates until the Steam Clock goes into action once again: fifteen minutes later.

Gastown, a hipster hangout, is considered by the cognoscenti to be on the cutting edge for food, fashion, design and culture. Named after Gassy Jack Deighton who was the city’s first bartender and saloon owner, his statue stands in Maple Leaf Square, just a stone’s throw from the Steam Clock. Insider tip: after you’ve captured the Steam Clock in action, now’s your chance to explore this stylish neighborhood filled with great fashion and interior design boutiques, as well as see to be seen bars and restaurants.