Vancouver’s urban renewal began right here. In the early 1990s the core Downtown area in and around the historic Esther Short Park was in seriously rough shape. The remnants of the old Lucky Lager brewery occupied several blocks right next to the park. I’ll spare you you the gory details, but it was a dark time indeed.
Enter Mayor Royce Pollard with his brash but effective style, he was determined to turn things around and get Vancouver out from under the shadow of our larger southern neighbor, Portland.
This was no easy task, yet by the mid-2000s the area around Esther Short Park was truly transformed into an urban oasis. Now this once downtrodden area is home to a fully restored four square block park, the oldest public square in the Pacific Northwest by the way, and a bustling mixed use neighborhood.
City Hall, the Hilton Convention Center, and loads of urban apartments and condos in mid-rise and high-rise developments now surround the park. Downtown Vancouver is dense enough to create an urban vibe yet still light and bright on the streets with parking and traffic that is manageable. This is a very walk-able area with a great selection of craft breweries, tap rooms, and scores of delightful restaurants and cafes. There is a wonderful Farmer’s Market on weekends from spring till fall and weekly concerts in the Park.