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Best Historic Locations in Vancouver

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This fabulous art deco building amid downtown's square steel uniformity is an ornate sight to behold. Designer J W Hobbs wanted to transpose the architectural grandeur of New York City to then-modest Vancouver, and he did so with terracotta, steel, brass, marble, intricate nautical details, gargoyles, murals and an impressive 40-foot (12-meter) archway entrance. The 25-story Marine Building was built in the late 1920s and serves today as an office building.

It isn't a replica, but this library was clearly inspired by the classical Roman Coliseum, awing visitors with its elegant linear design. Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, it was built in 1995 and draws book lovers and tourists alike. Bring the kids and go to the toddlers' play area or kids' lounge. There is also an art gallery, public readings, speakers and seven stories of books to browse. There is a large promenade with a six story-high ceiling that is filled with perfect people-watching seats. Shops and cafes dot the entrance, so grab a bite or souvenir as you explore. Please visit the website for the holiday list and other services provided.

Near the sunlit banks of the Lower Fraser River, the village of Steveston became home to a booming salmon cannery in 1894. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery burgeoned to great heights, going on to become British Columbia's leading producer of sockeye salmon, a feat that earned it the moniker 'Monster Cannery'. Besides being a beacon of the fishing industry on Canada's West Coast, the cannery also promoted a healthy multicultural philosophy, one where people of various descents worked alongside each other, rolling can after can of the indigenous fish. While the industry soon collapsed after the advent of machinery and the conclusion of the war, the building of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery continues to acquaint visitors with the golden heydays of fishing, through riveting guided tours of the cannery-turned-museum, and exhibits of age-old canning machinery and equipment.

Easily one of the oldest bridges in Vancouver, the Granville Street Bridge is a major link to the the city's nerve center spanning Downtown, Gastown and West End. First opened in 1889, the bridge has undergone several changes including a widening project and more recently, a major reconstruction project to cope with the rigors of the city's burgeoning growth. The bridge crosses over from central Vancouver passing Granville Island and False Creek into the city's hub of activity. While the bridge today, remains a largely functional affair, overshadowed by its larger and comely cousins like the Lions Gate Bridge, it remains part of the city's rich development history worth remembering.

At one time, this historic building used to be the tallest in the entire British Empire. Built in 1912, it is a fine example of the Beaux-Arts architecture with a cornice depicting nine maidens or caryatids and a dome made of faux-patina steel giving a copper-like look. The maidens were sculpted by Charles Marega. The building was constructed by L.D. Taylor for his newspaper The Vancouver World and was called The World Building. However, The Sun bought the building from him and renamed it as the Sun Tower, as it is popularly known today. Today, it houses a number of offices and is a well known landmark.

With its asymmetrical towers, downtown's Holy Rosary Cathedral is a perfect example of Gothic Revival architecture. The pointed window and doorway arches, vaulted ceiling, exterior sandstone carving and tracery stained glass windows all reflect the Gothic character. Also notable is the full ring of the bells. All eight hang in the 66-meter east tower. This was the first church in Canada to ring a peal of Grandshire Triples to honor Dominion Day (now called Canada Day) in 1911. It lasted two hours and 59 minutes! Admission is free, though donations are accepted.

An office building today, the Dominion Building was the first steel high-rise to be made in the city. It is believed that the architect John Helyer died after falling off the staircase of this building. His ghost can be seen here occasionally. The 13-story structure is a Class A heritage site. It has also been showcased in various films and TV shows. It is located in the Downtown area of the city and can be easily seen from afar.

Walk into this 110-year-old church and feel as though you've stepped back in time to a serene place. The historic cathedral, located across the street from the equally impressive Hotel Vancouver, features 29 striking Gothic and stained glass windows, each reflecting a story from the New Testament. The public art displayed in the lobby is also mesmerizing. The downtown landmark plays host to many choir recitals and concerts that are worthwhile for the acoustics alone. Check the website or call for information on special events and hours of worship.

Connecting the main city to North and West Vancouver, the hulking Lions Gate Bridge is as much a distinctive city landmark as it is an important transportation link. Completed in 1938, the suspension bridge passes over the Burrard Inlet, and was a momentous achievement of its time. With the picturesque Coastal Mountains as a backdrop, the bridge's location is a visual delight and has resulted in numerous appearances in popular media and movies. It ranks among some of the most photographed landmarks in the city and has become an icon associated with Vancouver. Owing to its historical significance the impact it had on the city's transportation system, the bridge was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2005.

A place to be at if you have always wondered how gold panners lived way back in the days of the gold rush. This site combines cultural history, archeological curiosity and activities like gold panning and costumes. Visit the blacksmith to watch old-fashioned workmanship first-hand. There are also characters milling about in traditional garb. In-depth guided tours show all the features of this historically rich area. Getting there is one hour's drive east from downtown. Many tours drive out from the hotels situated nearby.

Opened in 1936, the Vancouver City Hall forms a popular historical landmark. The unique architecture of the building makes it one of the most identifiable buildings in the area and hidden details within the structure and decor is what attracts most buffs to its doors. With the Vancouver Coat of Arms embedded on the outer doors and each door knob carrying the building's monogram, it is understandable why the building took a whopping one million to construct. So the next time you are in the city, be sure to check out the city's pride and joy, the Vancouver City Hall.

Originally built in 1903 as the Woodward's Department Store, it used to be touted as a one-stop-shop due to the numerous products that were available here, some of which were difficult to find elsewhere. Slowly, it grew to a size of 12 stories and attracted people from everywhere due to its sheer magnitude. The area around the building developed into a commercial area. In 2004, it was demolished and rebuilding it took six years. Today, this multi-story commercial building can be seen prominently with a miniature Eiffel Tower gracing its roof, the 'W' sign on its head (that stands for Woodward's) visible from afar.

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