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"Main & Hastings" Top 5 Page for this destination Downtown Eastside Tip by Carmanah

Downtown Eastside, Vancouver: 62 reviews and 16 photos

  Main & Hastings in the downtown eastside
by Carmanah

Main & Hastings is the famous intersection in Vancouver's downtown eastside neighbourhood which often refers to "ground zero" for the city's drug problems.

Well-meaning locals and hotel staff will tell visitors to Vancouver to "avoid this intersection at all costs". As a result, many curious travellers will rebel this advice and will go see this forbidden block for themselves. What's the fuss all about anyway?

Historically, Main & Hastings is Vancouver's oldest neighbourhood. This used to be the heart of Vancouver's downtown before the world wars. Not anymore.

Coincidentally, the downtown eastside is located between two of Vancouver's most famous tourist sites: Chinatown and Gastown. Most tourists don't even realize such neighbourhood exists until they innocently go exploring beyind Gastown in search for Chinatown. Vancouver's Chinatown exists a block away south of this intersection on Main and Pender. A preferable walk between the two sites is to walk along Pender Street from Gastown to Chinatown.

Vancouver's Main & Hastings intersection isn't dangerous, and certainly isn't worth "avoiding at all costs". It's not violent or ridden with gangs. However, it's a sad sight in terms of social issues and how Vancouver deals with its needy: the drug addicts, the homeless, the beggars and prostitutes. While the rest of Vancouver's downtown becomes gentrified, the down and out end up being marginalized to areas like this.

Yet, the area is rich in history and the architecture in this area is unique. This is Vancouver's grittier side. It's dirty and sad, but not dangerous. Don't fear it, just act wisely. As Vancouver author Douglas Coupland said, "come with sturdy footwear and an open mind'.

Address: Vancouver
Directions: Generally the area between Gastown & Chinatown, focused along the Main & E Hastings intersection

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 4, 2005
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