Three Villages of Vancouver’s West End
Vancouver’s vibrant West End neighbourhood is focused among three streets, Denman, Davie and Robson. Each of these three streets have such a unique character and vibe that in late 2013 the new West End community plan aims at defining each as its own village.
A closer look at each of the West End’s neighbourhoods will help in making your next visit a memorable one.
Denman Street is a perfect blend of indie cafes, big businesses as well as community amenities, such as libraries, ice rinks and schools. There are lots of bike rental shops in this area too, making it perfect for those who want to go for a ride along Stanley Park’s famous seawall. One popular store is the Bikes and Blades. Their prices are reasonable and service is excellent. And as their name suggests, if biking isn’t your thing, they have a selection of inline skates available for rent too!
If you’re ready to buy, check out the Denman Bike Shop. With knowledgeable staff to assist you in selecting a bike as well as excellent post-purchase care, it’s no wonder they have been voted Vancouver’s Best 12 times in its 15 years in business.
Denman Street is also home to the Joe Fortes Branch of the Vancouver Public Library. It’s a joint operation with the King George High School in the area and is part of the West End Community Centre. The centre itself has amenities such as a skating rink/arena, fitness centre, as well as squash courts. Other facilities include a pottery studio, a dark room as well as a dance studio.
Known for its gay-friendly culture, Davie Village is a fantastic spot for nightlife, but also excellent for weekend brunches. Some of the clubs in the area have been around since the 1980s. The iconic Celebrities has just recently undergone a renovation, and now boasts VIP rooms, top of the line sound and light systems. Numbers is another hot spot, featuring long bars, pool tables and even a karaoke room. After a hard night of partying, locals are known to frequent Hamburger Mary’s. Serving all-day breakfasts and your typical diner fare, this is the comfort food you’d expect from a greasy spoon. Insiders and area residents rave about the free coffee refills and extra thick milkshakes! And if you’re in the mood for breakfast at 2am, then, you are in luck, they are open until 3am most nights and even later on weekends.
For those looking for something slightly cozier, give La Brasserie a try. Serving up French and German cuisine, brothers Michael and Stephen Wiese have ensured the room has a French feel, from the music to the soft lighting. The German food outshines the French cuisine; though the French Onion Soup is a standout. And in a city obsessed with Open Table, it’s a big leap to enforce a “no reservations” policy.
For those who live in the West End, Urban Décor is a popular spot to find new home furnishings. Specializing in condo-sized furniture, their collection is a blend of permanent items as well as some carefully curated items featuring current trends. For the eco-friendly shopper, you’ll be please to know that 70% of the products are manufactured locally.
Traveling down the length of Robson Street will take you from scenic False Creek, various performance venues, right through back to Stanley Park. The shops are a myriad of fashion, technology, home furnishings and more. It’s no surprise that Clearly Contacts, the world’s largest online eyewear seller decided on Robson Street as the location for their first North American bricks-and-mortar store. Being that lease rates on Robson Street are one of the highest in Canada, expect to find the typical big names in fashion.
Foodies also flock to Robson for Japanese, Korean, Indian and classic American fare. One restaurant chain, Guu, started in 1993 with the original location on Robson and Thurlow. Now, Guu has two locations on Robson alone, a total of 6 in Vancouver, and recently expanded to 2 more in Toronto. Their izakaya-style of Japanese quickly caught on, with comfort dishes such as Yaki Udon, Grilled Teriyaki Chicken and signature Japanese curries.
A recent addition to the street is Dinesty Dumpling House, a Taiwanese/Shanghainese restaurant that originated in Richmond. It served simple dim sum style lunches at night and more elaborate dinner items. Two dishes that are available all day are their Potstickers and the Steamed Pork Buns, classic Shanghainese dishes. Do yourself a favour, go with a crowd and make sure you sample both.
Another very neat idea that has taken place on Robson Street for the past few years is the closure of 800-block Robson to traffic. Instead, various sculptures and seating are installed so pedestrians can socialize, have a quick lunch from a nearby foodtruck or even take a nap! This year, the theme is “Urban Reef” and wooden seating areas have been installed. The street will be closed until Labour Day, so be sure to head down and take a selfie or two.
Census data from 2011 indicated that the West End contained 7.4% of the city’s overall population. Pre-2000s and the gradual redevelopment of other downtown neighbourhoods, the West End had the highest population density in the city. The largest age group in the area is 20-39, with them making up 48% of the population, whereas the City of Vancouver average is 34%.
Although they make up only 6% of the population, there are three public schools (Lord Roberts Elementary, Lord Roberts Annex & King George Secondary) in place to service them. As mentioned above, there is the large West End Community Centre as well.
60% of all households in this area have only one resident, whereas in the city overall, it’s only 40%. Another unique trend? 61% are native English speakers, versus the 49% in the city of Vancouver. Most of the residents in this area also work in the area, which promotes environment friendly modes of transportation, such as cycling, public transit or walking.
Most of the housing in the area are mid-rise to highrise buildings. Two buildings on the outskirts of the West End were completed within the past 6 years; the Shangri-La in 2008 and Patina in 2010. Ownership is definitely on the rise, in 1996, only 9% owned their dwelling. This has since more than doubled to 19% in 2006. There is a belief that housing units have been reducing in time over size, but this is in fact false. In the 70s, housing sizes were 700-800 square feet. Since the 80s, units average over 1,000; evidence that more multiple bedroom units are being built.
Would you like to find out more? Our official West End neighbourhood report provides great information on West End schools, shops, and even more great places to eat.
Check out other great Vancouver neighbourhoods by visiting our neighbourhood report section.
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