West End

West End by Adam Jones
West End by Adam Jones

Vancouver’s West End is one of the most densely populated areas in the whole of Canada, attracting residents who want to live as close to the business centre as possible while still being able to enjoy sunny days at the beach and the vibrant nightlife of the neighbourhood. The West End is also famous for its diversity and is home to the Davie Street Village, with a substantial gay population.

Location

The neighbourhood is on the western part of the downtown peninsula at the shore of English Bay. Officially, the West End borders are defined as the area west of Burrard Street, east of Denman Street, and south of West Georgia Street. However, most people commonly consider Stanley Park to be the natural borderline to the west. The public transit system covers the area with a dense network. The CanadaLine and TransLink buses are available.

History

View of the West End by Vancouver 125  The City of Vancouve
View of the West End by Vancouver 125

At the brink of the 20th century, without a doubt, the West End was the most posh neighbourhood in Vancouver, filled with grand Victorian homes for upper-income families. For example, Georgia Street was commonly referred to as “Blue Blood Alley.” However, as the Shaughnessy’s exclusivity was rising, the West End slowly started losing its role as the upscale area, and middle-class housing soon appeared. As the time passed and Vancouver developed into a major city, the West End became a place where immigrants gathered after arriving to the city. While this trend was perceived as a sign of degradation of the area, the tradition of diversity and tolerance it established can still be felt these days, giving the West End its friendly feeling. After WWII, the West End became home to a significant German Community, often residing around Robson Street (that’s where its nickname Robsonstrasse comes from).

Real Estate

West End by Flightlog
West End by Flightlog

Even though the West End is known as a densely populated residential area inhabited by over 40, 000 people, the demand in this attractive neighbourhood usually outweighs the supply. Most of the offered new listings consist of high-rise condominiums and apartments, as over-five-storey buildings make almost 77 per cent of all residential buildings. Houses are rare, as the construction boom in the second half of the 20th century replaced them with residential complexes for the ever-growing number of potential buyers. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of dwellers in the West End prefer renting to buying their own realty, probably due to high prices that often exceed the affordability level of the people. However, if you fancy the West End, it’s most certainly worth it to pay a bit of extra price for the amazing location and charm of the neighbourhood.

Parks and Beaches

Stanley Park

The West End boasts the largest city-owned park in Canada, visited by about eight million visitors each year. Stanley Park is an awesome place to cycle or skate on the numerous trails and roads scattered around its 405 hectares. It’s also home to the amazing Vancouver Aquarium. A very special feature and one of the main attractions of the park is an 8.8 kilometre-seawall, allowing visitors to traverse the park while being only feet from the ocean.

Alexandra Park

1755 Beach Avenue

This is a quiet park located just off Beach Avenue on the shores of English Bay. Lie down on a grassy knoll and watch the sea during your lunch break. An extra bonus of the park is the bands playing for the public every Sunday morning during the summer.

Nelson Park

1030 Bute Street

A little piece of nature in the heart of the city and one of the best spots for dog owners to let their pooches go off-leash.

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach by Irene
Sunset Beach by Irene

Sunset Beach is like a jewel located just a sandy spit close to the West End, located near Bute Street. It is one of the quieter picks great for relaxing times, as no amplified music is present.

English Bay Beach

Located right next to Stanley Park, this beach is downtown’s most attended beach, attracting visitors all year long. It epitomizes the urban feeling of the West End: while offering possibilities to enjoy the sunbathing and beach-volleyball on one side, it is also full of little shops and restaurants on the other. Many Vancouverites also claim that it’s the best spot ever to watch the annual Celebration of Light fireworks festival.

Events

Vancouver Pride Parade

Vancouver Pride Parade by Alex Pappajohn
Vancouver Pride Parade by Alex Pappajohn

The colourful display of diversity naturally takes place in the historic centre of Vancouver’s gay community and has become one of the annually anticipated summer events. Every year, over 500,000 people attend the protest march.

Vancouver Sun Run

Every April, Canada’s largest community 10 kilometre run is held in the West End. Both fun run and competitive race attract over 50,000 participants. The Sun Run is famous for its laid-back atmosphere, and while you are free to take it seriously, most people just show up to enjoy themselves and find a reason to spend a nice day outdoors.

Celebration of Light Firework Competition

Annual fireworks festival taking place at the end of July and beginning of August. The West End shores are certainly one of the ultimate spots to watch the show.

Schools

Lord Roberts Annex

1150 Nelson Street

Lord Roberts Elementary

1100 Bidwell Street

King George Secondary

1755 Barclay Street

Shopping

Robson Street by Wikimedia Commons
Robson Street by Wikimedia Commons

The West End is the place for all shopaholics. The shopping opportunities range from big-box retail stores to lovely indie labels, so it’s almost guaranteed that all visitors get exactly what they crave. The area is home to Robson Street, the most famous shopping street stretching from Burrard Street to Jervis Street. While in the past it used to be the centre of the German community, these days it’s the fashionable hotspot of shopping, dining, and clubbing in Vancouver.

Aside from visiting the fancy shopping boulevards, take your time to discover the numerous small shops and boutiques in the area. Each has its own spirit, and whether you are looking for high-end dresses or used books, you are most probably going to find it soon. Grocery stores with organic food became widespread over the last couple of years, so if you invite someone special for dinner, these thriving and colourful little stores will most certainly supply you with the goods you need.

Eating out

The West End’s mixed population and central position within the city is reflected in the large variety of restaurants and cafes that you may choose from. Denman Street, Robson Street, and Davie Street are the most popular dining spots. If you’re feeling hopeless, overwhelmed by the huge offer, get inspired and check out some of our tips!

Tavola

1829 Robson

Showcasing the best of Italian food served in cozy, family-style restaurant. Check out their rib-stake and finish the night choosing from their exquisite collection of wines.

Nat’s New York Pizzeria

1080 Denman

Critically praised, award-winning pizza place. Typical New York-style, hand-tossed pizza is served so crispy and chewy at the same time. I guarantee that you won’t stop at one slice…

Melriches Coffee House

1244 Davie

Popular neighbourhood coffee house, perfect to catch up with friends. It is known for serving delicious breakfasts and snacks.

Central Bistro

1072 Denman

Central Bistro
Central Bistro

Central Bistro is always buzzing with life, and jazz concerts are often organized here on Sunday night. The food is excellent — always prepared from the freshest ingredients.

La Belle Patate

1215 Davie

If you’re searching for the taste of true Quebec, this is the place for you. The fries are hand cut, and traditional poutine is offered in almost thirty variations.

Community, Arts and Cultural Centres

West End Community Centre

870 Denman Street

The West End Community Centre is driven by volunteer work and provides inhabitants with recreational, educational, and social services.

Other Notable Places

The Roedde House Museum

After taking a stroll through the Barclay Heritage Square, the best preserved and restored area of Victorian homes in the West End, stop by in Roedde House Museum to learn about the grand past of the neighbourhood.

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Centre

845 Avison Way

Vancouver Aquarium by Wikimedia Commons
Vancouver Aquarium by Wikimedia Commons

The Vancouver Aquarium is a wonderful place to encourage your kids’ passion for marine science. Learn about aquatic life and conservation through interactive displays. Some of the main attractions are orca, beluga, and dolphin shows.

Statistics

You can take a look at the more detailed statistics on age groups, families or households in the report by City of Vancouver.

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