is a national historic site in Vancouver, situated at the northeast
end of Downtown, adjacent to the Downtown Eastside. Gastown was Vancouver's
first downtown core and is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a Geordie
seaman, steamboat captain and barkeeper who arrived in 1867 to open
the area's first saloon.
In 1886, the
town was incorporated as the City of Vancouver. It fell victim to
the Great Vancouver Fire in the same year, which destroyed all but
two of its buildings. The area was completely rebuilt and continued
new life as the centre of the city's wholesale produce distribution
until the Great Depression in the 1930s. After the Depression, Gastown
was a largely forgotten neighbourhood of the larger city of Vancouver,
and fell into decline and disrepair until the 1960s.
citizens became concerned with preserving Gastown's distinctive
and historic architecture. Campaigning resulted in the provincial
government declaring Gastown a provincial historical site in 1971,
protecting its heritage buildings forever, and the Canadian government
designated it a national historic site in 2009.
famous landmark is its steam-powered clock, located on the corner
of Cambie and Water Street. The clock was built to cover a steam grate
that was part of Vancouver's distributed steam-heating system. The
clock was built as a way to harness the steam and to prevent street
people from sleeping on the spot in cold weather.
A plant adjacent
to the Georgia Viaduct generates the low-pressure steam that powers
a miniature steam engine in the base of the clock, which drives
a chain lift that moves steel balls upward, where they are unloaded
and roll to a descending chain. The weight of the balls on the descending
chain drives a conventional pendulum clock escapement, geared to
the hands on the four faces. The steam also powers the clock's sound
production, which uses whistles to to signal the time and produce
the Westminster chime. Each 1/4 hour the clock sounds the chimes
on 5 brass steam whistlers.