In the last years of 19th century, the area of City of Vancouver, Known as Gastown was the main business district. It is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, the
entrepreneur who came to City of Vancouver in 1867 to quench the first of the mill workers. The owners of Pioneer Mill and Hastings Mill, Sewell Moody and Captain Edward Stamp, had strict prohibitions against the consumption of alcohol on mill property and the 12 miles to the
nearest saloon in New Westminster looked like a long way in 1867. Deighton had no trouble enlisting the aid of workers in building a saloon. Today, the numbering system in City of Vancouver starts at the site of that saloon, on the corner of Carrall and Water Streets, attribute to the
importance of "Gassy" Jack in the development of city.
The original shantytown of makeshift buildings, tents, ankle-deep mud and wooden sidewalks
disappeared in 1886, leveled by fire and reconstruction. More permanent structures of brick and stone sprang up and Cordova Street became the main business thoroughfare of the young city. Over the years, as the city expanded further South and West, the area changed character, becoming largely a warehouse district. No longer known as Gastown, it was now the main wholesale merchandising district in Vancouver and some of hotels were converted to storage, others simply abandoned. During the Depression, the area changed character again, as many unemployed men flocked to Vancouver and took refuge in the empty warehouse and cheap hotels. By now it was deserted by all but the very poor and the
companions of poverty, crime and alcoholism increased drastically.
By the early sixties, the area was in decay and its historical significance largely forgotten. Fortunately interest was awakened in reclaiming it and by the late sixties, the abandoned warehouses, cheap hotels and rooming houses were being renovated to maintain and enhance their original charm and transformed into a thriving community of restaurants, coffee houses, boutiques, antique stores and art galleries. The city fathers initiated street renovations to give it a turn-of-the-century look, complete with brick streets and antique lighting. The entire area is now a fine example of urban renewal and historical preservation. A statue of "Gassy" Jack overlooks Gastown, which once again has the bustle of commerce.