25 Things You Should Know About Vancouver


Vancouver, British Columbia, delivers an appealing mix of urban convenience and access to nature—so it's no wonder that 2.5 million people call the greater metropolitan area home. Here are 25 facts that will send you running across the the border to the Canadian city.

1. British Captain George Vancouver arrived in 1792 and quickly realized the Spanish technically owned the entire west coast because of 1494’s Treaty of Tordesillas. He left after one day.

2. As the story goes, a popular saloon was built on the Burrard Inlet by a guy nicknamed Gassy Jack in 1867 (so named for his outgoing personality—we hope). Soon a community sprung up in the area named Gastown. In 1870, Gastown was incorporated as the town of Granville and in 1886, Granville was incorporated as the City of Vancouver, with around 1000 residents.

3. When the city was just two months old, it completely burned down in the Great Fire of Vancouver. Only three buildings survived. Historians believe that the town's two newspapers were also affected by the blaze—there's a gap in the microfilm archives from June 10, 1886 to July 23, 1886.

4. Even though Vancouver surpassed the current British Columbia capital Victoria in size in 1900, it never had the distinction of serving as the provincial seat of government.

5. Downtown’s Marine Building in Coal Harbour used to be the tallest building in not just Canada, but in the entire British Empire. The October 7, 1930, Vancouver Sun newspaper supplement described the 321-foot tall art deco structure as a “great marine rock rising from the sea, clinging with sea flora and fauna, tinted in sea green, flashed with gold, at night a dim silhouette piercing the sea mists.”

Vancouver’s first green space, the 1001-acre Stanley Park, is one of North America’s largest urban greenspaces. It hosts around 8 million visitors a year. Among its many attractions: "Girl in a Wetsuit," which looks remarkably like Copenhagen's "Little Mermaid." Of course, it features a few modern updates that kept the artist from getting sued. All of the squirrels in Stanley Park are descended from eight pairs gifted to Vancouverby the City of New York in 1909.

7. One of the world’s longest continuous waterfront paths is Vancouver’s 17.4-mile Seaside Greenway, which includes the 5.6-mile Stanley Park Seawall.

8. Built to create jobs during the Depression, the Kitsilano Pool opened on August 15, 1931, and is North America’s longest saltwater pool. The 449-foot long space, which locals call “Kits Pool,” was originally built for $50,000, but got a $2.2 million makeover in 1978.

9. British Columbia’s most visited attraction, the Brockton Point totem poles, are located inside Stanley Park. The display started in the 1920s when four poles were brought in from Alert Bay. In 1936, more were bought from Haida Gwaii and the province’s central coast. The First Nations artifacts were moved to their current location in the 1960s. Currently, there are nine poles; the most recent was added in 2009.

Totem Poles in Stanley Park, 2008 // johnny9s, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The third time the Granville Street Bridge was built in 1954, the first civilian to drive over it was the same woman who was the first to drive over the second iteration of that bridge in 1909. Both times she made the journey in a new Cadillac.

11. Unlike most North American metropolises, there still aren’t any freeways in downtown Vancouver—although there have been a number of plans to build them through the decades. One idea in the 1960s involved creating a massive ditch at Comox and Thurlow streets to carve out room for a complex system of highways.

12. An iconic sight along the waterfront are the five 90-foot sails made of teflon-coated fiberglass on top of Canada Place, installed in 1986. Every night, the white surfaces are illuminated with colors, displays, and animation, often honoring local charities and events.

13. Princess Diana and Prince Charles hopped across the pond to open the 1986 World’s Fair, better known as Expo 86, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the city. The event attracted 22 million visitors that year, but it was far from profitable: in fact, that particular fair ran a $337 million deficit.

14. The 155-foot-tall geodesic dome on Quebec Street designed by American R. Buckminster Fuller was constructed for Expo 86 to serve as the Expo Preview Center. With 766 triangles, 391 lights and 15,000 pounds of aluminum, it now holds the Science World British Columbia museum.


 Today, Leg-in-Boot Square looks a lot like your typical urban plaza. But for a two-week period back in 1887, the otherwise unassuming square boasted a grisly landmark: a half of a leg in—you guessed it—a boot, which local police decided to display outside their station in case its owner came looking for it.

16. The historic industrial region of Granville Island started its transformation in the 1970s into a community known for its artisans, performers, and market. Granville Island is also home to the Sea Village, a neighborhood on the water comprised of floating houses [PDF].

17. Vancouver's Chinatown houses Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, as well as the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. What’s the difference? The Park is a public city space designed by local architects, who relied on modern-day equipment with materials from the Americas and volcanic rocks from Mexico. The Garden, on the other hand, was founded by a non-profit and designed by Chinese artisans using architecture from the Ming Dynasty and supplies from China, including fossil limestone rocks from Lake Tai. Both were built in the 1980s and share a pond in the middle.

18. A combination of the exchange rate and tax credits has given Vancouver the moniker “Hollywood North” for the tremendous number of film and TV shows filmed there. A record 353 productions were shot in the city in 2015; Deadpool hired more than 2000 employees over the course of production. Most recently, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, out next May, wrapped filming in the area.

19. Home to the Vancouver Whitecaps and the BC Lions (which are both technically football teams), the BC Place stadium has served as a filming location for Godzilla 3D, The Fantastic Four, and Alien vs. Predator, as well as TV shows Arrow, Smallville, Fringe, Highlander, and The Flash. But the stadium's real star is its 328-by-279-foot retractable roof—the largest of its kind in the world.

20. According to Vancouver's Neon Products Ltd., Vancouver had the second-highest number of neon signs per capita in the 1950s and '60s. (Only Shanghai had more.)

21. The city hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, with 2566 athletes from 82 countries competing. The 17-day event was covered by 10,000 media representatives and watched by 3 billion viewers globally. Venues were spread over a 75-mile area stretching from Richmond to Whistler.


Soaring 499 feet above sea level at the highest point in Vancouver is the 128-acre Queen Elizabeth Park, with sweeping views of the city, water, and mountains. Its arboretum features 1500 trees from across Canada, while the park's Bloedel Conservatoryhouses 500 exotic plants and 200 birds.

23. The California roll was, ironically, invented in Vancouver by sushi chef Hidekazu Tojo, who moved to the city from Japan in 1971. After observing that westerns weren’t huge fans of raw fish or seaweed, he ditched the fish and hid the seaweed. Many of the early fans were visitors from Los Angeles, so he named it after the Golden State.

24. If you're ever looking for a spot to kick back, consider heading to Vancouver's own Dude Chilling Park. That isn't the park's official name—according to city officials, it's technically still called Guelph Park—but local residents couldn't help but refer to the park's main attraction, an abstract figure that appears to be, well, just chilling. A "Dude Chilling Park" sign was installed as a "public art project" in 2014.

25. One of the Canadian metropolis’ biggest names is Chester, a young false killer whale who was rescued near Tofino with just a 10 percent chance of survival and rehabilitated by the Vancouver Aquarium. These days, he can be spotted in the Aquarium's Wild Coast habitat, alongside a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen.

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These Are the World's 10 Most Expensive Cities

While Americans in big cities may complain about how expensive the cost of living is, according to a new report, places like New York and Los Angeles don’t even come close to the expense of international cities like Singapore. As Travel + Leisure mentions, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s biannual report on the world’s most expensive cities has named the Asian city-state the most expensive place on Earth to live for the fifth year in a row. No U.S. city even cracks the top 10.

The Intelligence Unit’s survey tracks prices of 160 products and services in cities across the world, including food and drink, clothing, rent, utility bills, transportation, and more. It’s designed to help companies calculate cost-of-living analyses for employees traveling and living abroad, but it also just provides an intriguing snapshot into how the rest of the world lives, and just how expensive your next vacation might be. And, of course, it allows you to feel a little better about your own city. Next time you want to complain about your rising rent, New Yorkers, know that residents of Seoul have to pay 50 percent more than you for groceries.

The prices used in the calculations are converted to U.S. dollars, meaning that the whole thing is tied to how much the dollar is worth—if the euro is worth more than the dollar, you’ll need more dollars to buy things in Paris. A weakening dollar is one reason the report gives for the lack of U.S. cities in the top 10 list, even though American cities are becoming more expensive relative to past years. (New York, currently in 13th place, was in the 27th spot five years ago.)

Without further ado, and with our deepest sympathies to their denizens, here are the top 10 most expensive cities across the world:

1. Singapore
2. Paris, France
2. Zurich, Switzerland
4. Hong Kong
5. Oslo, Norway
6. Geneva, Switzerland
6. Seoul, South Korea
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
9. Tel Aviv, Israel
10. Sydney, Australia

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

19 Must-Visit Stops on Mexico City's Metro

About 5 million people ride the Mexico City subway every day—but most commuters don’t realize how much there is to do and see without ever having to go above ground. From piano stairs to a space tunnel, exploring the attractions hidden within the metro just might be the most fun you can have for 5 pesos (about $0.25 USD). These Mexico City metro stations settle the old question once and for all; it’s both the journey and the destination.


Talisman station (line 4) has a mammoth logo for a reason: Mammoth fossils were unearthed during construction of the metro, and you can see the bones—which date back to the Pleistocene—on display there.


space tunnel at La Raza station
Sharon Hahn Darlin, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

How do you make a long transfer fly by? Transform it into a walk-through space tunnel illuminated by a glow-in-the-dark night sky, the highlight of the science museum located within La Raza station (lines 3 and 5).


Viveros (line 3), a station named for the nearby nursery, is in full flower: It was recently given a jungle makeover complete with imitation palms, jaguars, and snakes to raise awareness for the preservation of southern Mexico’s Lacandon Rainforest.


Complement your day trip to the pyramids at Teotihuacan with a stop at the Pino Suarez station (lines 1 and 2), where you can see a 650-year-old pyramid dedicated to Ehecatl, the Aztec god of wind. Tens of thousands of users go through the station daily, making the pyramid one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. (Though it's referred to as Mexico’s smallest archaeological zone, the National Institute of Anthropology and History doesn't consider it a "proper" archaeological zone "due to its size and the fact of being located in a Metro Transport System facility.")


Hidalgo (lines 2 and 3) may be the most miraculous of all of Mexico City’s metro stations: In 1997, someone (possibly a street vendor) discovered a water stain in the shape of the Virgin of Guadalupe in one of its floor tiles. The apparition attracted so many pilgrims that metro authorities eventually had to remove the tile, which is now enshrined just outside one of the exits (follow the signs for Iglesia), near the intersection of Paseo de la Reforma and Zarco. And if you happen to visit this station on the morning of the 28th of any month, you’ll be swarmed with pious commuters carrying figurines of Saint Judas Thaddeus—patron saint of delinquents and lost causes—who is venerated at the nearby San Hipolito Church.


No time to visit the vast National Museum of Anthropology? You can still catch reproductions of Mesoamerican statues at the Bellas Artes (lines 2 and 8) and Tezozomoc (line 6) stops.


miniatures on the Mexico city subway
Randal Sheppard, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Miniature maniacs shouldn’t miss the scale models of Mexico City’s main plaza at the Zocalo stop (line 2). They depict, in tiny form, the metamorphosis of the capital from the Aztec Templo Mayor to the present-day Metropolitan Cathedral. (And bonus points to anyone who can spot the cat who lives in this station.)


The music-themed Division del Norte station’s (line 3) free karaoke corner draws a crowd gathered to watch fellow riders belt out boleros and ballads on their way to work. The unassuming abuelitas laden with bags from the market always have the most impressive pipes.


piano stairs at Polanco station
Victor.Aguirre-Lopez, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Don’t take the escalators at Polanco station (line 7), because the stairs are a giant musical piano keyboard. Finally, here’s your chance to live out Tom Hanks’s piano dance scene from the movie Big.


The Guerrero stop (lines B and 3) is a tribute to the legends of lucha libre, with costume displays and murals dedicated to 45 of Mexico’s finest masked fighters.


The largest bookshop in Latin America can be found in the long passage between the Zocalo and Pino Suarez stations. The underground emporium known as Un Paseo Por Los Libros sells titles from textbooks to manga and also hosts free workshops, lectures, and movie screenings.


murals in the Mexico City subway
Thelmadatter, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Any visitor to Mexico City should check out Diego Rivera’s murals—but on your way, don’t forget to look up at the murals that decorate many metro stations. Particularly impressive are Guillermo Ceniceros’s ambitious chronicles of art through the history of time on the walls at the Copilco (line 3) and Tacubaya stations (lines 1, 7, and 9). On the kitschier side, see how many famous faces you can pick out in Jorge Flores Manjarrez’s I Spy-style mural of pop stars at the Auditorio stop (line 7).


A museum of caricatures located inside the Zapata stop (line 12) is an homage to Mexican cartooning, including plenty of satirical interpretations of the mustachioed revolutionary who gives the station its name.


If Chabacano station (lines 2, 8, and 9) feels unsettlingly familiar, it might be because it was used as a shooting location for the subway chase scene in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall. Legend has it you can still spot splashes of fake blood on the ceiling.


Museo del Metro de la Ciudad de México
ProtoplasmaKid, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Has this metro adventure turned you into a super fan? Do a deep dive at Mixcoac station’s (line 12) sleek Metro Museum, where you can learn even more fun facts about the subway’s 50 years of history while you wait out rush hour.


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