Vancouver in British Columbia

Monday, 7 March 2016 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
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© flickr.com - High Diver/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – High Diver/cc-by-sa-2.0

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia in Canada. he population is at 604,000 in the city, making it the eighth largest Canadian municipality. The Greater Vancouver area of around 2.4 million inhabitants is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country, the second largest city on the , and the most populous in Western Canada. Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada; 52% of its residents have a first language other than English. Vancouver is classed as a Beta global city. The City of Vancouver encompasses a land area of about 114 square kilometres, giving it a population density of about 5,249 people per square kilometre (13,590 per square mile). Vancouver is the most densely populated Canadian municipality, and the fourth most densely populated city with over 250,000 residents in North America, behind New York City, San Francisco, and Mexico City. Vancouver is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life, and the Economist Intelligence Unit acknowledged it as the first city to rank among the top-ten of the world’s most liveable cities for five consecutive years.

Located on the Burrard Peninsula, Vancouver lies between Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south. The Strait of Georgia, to the west, is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island. The island and the city are both named after Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver (as is the city of Vancouver, Washington in the United States). The original settlement, named Gastown, grew up on clearcuts on the west edge of the Hastings Mill logging sawmill’s property, where a makeshift tavern had been set up on a plank between two stumps and the proprietor, Gassy Jack, persuaded the curious millworkers to build him a tavern, on 1 July 1867. From that first enterprise, other stores and some hotels quickly appeared along the waterfront to the west. Gastown became formally laid out as a registered townsite dubbed Granville, B.I. (“B.I” standing for “Burrard Inlet”). As part of the land and political deal whereby the area of the townsite was made the railhead of the CPR, it was renamed “Vancouver” and incorporated shortly thereafter as a city, in 1886. By 1887, the transcontinental railway was extended to the city to take advantage of its large natural seaport, which soon became a vital link in a trade route between the Orient, Eastern Canada, and Europe. As of 2014, Port Metro Vancouver is the third largest port by tonnage in the Americas (displacing New York), 27th in the world, the busiest and largest in Canada, and the most diversified port in North America. Each year over a million people pass through Vancouver on cruise ship vacations, often bound for Alaska. While forestry remains its largest industry, Vancouver is well known as an urban centre surrounded by nature, making tourism its second-largest industry. Vancouver’s scenic location makes it a major tourist destination. Many visit to see the city’s gardens, Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Garden and the mountains, ocean, forest and parklands which surround the city.

Major film production studios in Vancouver and Burnaby have turned Greater Vancouver and nearby areas into one of the largest film production centres in North America, earning it the film industry nickname, Hollywood North.

Vancouver’s characteristic approach to urban planning originated in the late 1950s, when city planners began to encourage the building of high-rise residential towers in Vancouver’s West End, subject to strict requirements for setbacks and open space to protect sight lines and preserve green space. The success of these dense but liveable neighbourhoods led to the redevelopment of urban industrial sites, such as North False Creek and Coal Harbour, beginning in the mid-1980s. The result is a compact urban core that has gained international recognition for its “high amenity and ‘livable’ development”. More recently, the city has been debating “ecodensity”—ways in which “density, design, and land use can contribute to environmental sustainability, affordability, and livability”. The architecture of Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver region reflects the area’s rapid growth during the late 20th century into a vibrant internationally recognized destination of choice and place to live.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is housed downtown in the neoclassical former courthouse built in 1906. The courthouse building was designed by Francis Rattenbury, who also designed the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel in Victoria, and the lavishly decorated second Hotel Vancouver. The 556-room Hotel Vancouver, opened in 1939 and the third by that name, is across the street with its copper roof. The Gothic-style Christ Church Cathedral, across from the hotel, opened in 1894 and was declared a heritage building in 1976. There are several modern buildings in the downtown area, including the Harbour Centre, the Vancouver Law Courts and surrounding plaza known as Robson Square and the Vancouver Library Square, reminiscent of the Colosseum in Rome, and the recently completed Woodward’s building redevelopment. The original BC Hydro headquarters building at Nelson and Burrard Streets is a modernist high-rise, now converted into the Electra condominia. Also notable is the “concrete waffle” of the MacMillan Bloedel building on the north-east corner of the Georgia and Thurlow intersection. A prominent addition to the city’s landscape is the giant tent-frame Canada Place, the former Canada Pavilion from the 1986 World Exposition, which includes part of the Convention Centre, the Pan-Pacific Hotel, and a cruise ship terminal. Two modern buildings that define the southern skyline away from the downtown area are City Hall and the Centennial Pavilion of Vancouver General Hospital. A collection of Edwardian buildings in the city’s old downtown core were, in their day, the tallest commercial buildings in the British Empire. These were, in succession, the Carter-Cotton Building (former home of The Vancouver Province newspaper), the Dominion Building (1907) and the Sun Tower (1911), the former two at Cambie and Hastings Streets and the latter at Beatty and Pender Streets. The Sun Tower’s cupola was finally exceeded as the Empire’s tallest commercial building by the elaborate Art Deco Marine Building in the 1920s. The Marine Building is known for its elaborate ceramic tile facings and brass-gilt doors and elevators, which make it a favourite location for movie shoots. Topping the list of tallest buildings in Vancouver is Living Shangri-La at 201 metres (659 feet) and 62 storeys. The second-tallest building in Vancouver is the Private Residences at Hotel Georgia, at 156 metres (512 feet). Third is One Wall Centre at 150 metres (490 feet) and 48 storeys, followed closely by the Shaw Tower at 149 metres (489 feet).

Since the 1990s, development of high-rise condominia in the downtown peninsula has been financed, in part, by an inflow of capital from Hong Kong immigrants due to the former colony’s 1997 handover to China. Such development has clustered in the Yaletown and Coal Harbour districts and around many of the SkyTrain stations to the east of the downtown. The city’s selection to co-host the 2010 Winter Olympics was also a major influence on economic development. Another significant international event held in Vancouver, the 1986 World Exposition, received over 20 million visitors and added $3.7 billion to the Canadian economy. Some still-standing Vancouver landmarks, including the SkyTrain public transit system and Canada Place, were built as part of the exposition.

Canada Place at night © flickr.com - Matthew Grapengieser/cc-by-sa-2.0 TELUS World of Science © Differense/cc-by-sa-3.0 Vancouver Art Gallery © Jason Vanderhill Stanley Park © Panida3744/cc-by-sa-3.0 The West End © flickr.com - Kenny Louie/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - High Diver/cc-by-sa-2.0
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Canada Place at night © flickr.com - Matthew Grapengieser/cc-by-sa-2.0
Prominent theatre companies in Vancouver include the Arts Club Theatre Company on Granville Island, and Bard on the Beach. Smaller companies include Touchstone Theatre, and Studio 58. The Cultch, The Firehall Arts Centre, United Players, and The Pacific and Metro Theatres, all run continuous theatre seasons. Theatre Under the Stars produces shows in the summer at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. Annual festivals that are held in Vancouver include the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in January and the Vancouver Fringe Festival in September. The Scotiabank Dance Centre, a converted bank building on the corner of Davie and Granville, functions as a gathering place and performance venue for Vancouver-based dancers and choreographers. Dances for a Small Stage is a semi-annual dance festival. The Vancouver International Film Festival, which runs for two weeks each September, shows over 350 films and is one of the larger film festivals in North America. The Vancouver International Film Centre venue, the Vancity Theatre, runs independent non-commercial films throughout the rest of the year, as do the Pacific Cinémathèque, and the Rio theatres

Libraries in Vancouver include the Vancouver Public Library with its main branch at Library Square. The central branch contains 1.5 million volumes. Altogether there are twenty-two branches containing 2.25 million volumes. The Vancouver Tool Library is Canada’s original tool lending library. The Vancouver Art Gallery has a permanent collection of nearly 10,000 items and is the home of a significant number of works by Emily Carr. However, little or none of the permanent collection is ever on view. Downtown is also home to the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver). The CAG showcases temporary exhibitions by up-and-coming Vancouver artists.

In the Kitsilano district are the Vancouver Maritime Museum (the main exhibit is the St. Roch, an historic arctic exploration vessel used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, and the Vancouver Museum, the largest civic museum in Canada. The Museum of Anthropology at UBC is a leading museum of Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations culture. A more interactive museum is Science World at the head of False Creek. The city also features a diverse collection of Public Art.

Musical contributions from Vancouver include performers of classical, folk and popular music. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is the professional orchestra based in the city. The Vancouver Opera is a major opera company in the city, and City Opera of Vancouver is the city’s professional chamber opera company. The city is home to a number of Canadian composers including Rodney Sharman, Jeffrey Ryan, and Jocelyn Morlock. Vancouver has a vibrant nightlife scene, whether it be food and dining, or bars and nightclubs. The Granville Entertainment District has the city’s highest concentration of bars and nightclubs with closing times of 3am, in addition to various after-hours clubs open until late morning on weekends. The street can attract large crowds on weekends and is closed to traffic on such nights. Gastown is also a popular area for nightlife with many upscale restaurants and nightclubs, as well as the Davie Village which is centre to the city’s LGBT community.

The relatively mild climate of Vancouver, its extensive parkland, and close proximity to ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes make the area a popular destination for outdoor sports and recreation.

Read more on Vancouver, DestinationVancouver.com, VancouverIsland.travel, Wikivoyage Vancouver and Wikipedia Vancouver (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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