Downtown is the central business district of entire region. Office towers and hotels make up most of the buildings. People from all over Greater Vancouver work downtown. There are also arts and entertainment establishments in this neighbourhood like Queen Elizabeth Theatre and GM Place.
Within the Downtown area are three new residential neighbourhoods: Coal Harbour, Yaletown, and Concord Pacific Place. All three developments used to be old industrial areas with factories and warehouses. Now apartment highrises and condominiums dominate the landscape. Concord Pacific Place used to be the land used for the World Exposition in 1986, better known as Expo 86.
Granville Street is one of the busiest streets in the city, even though only buses and taxis are allowed on the street. Pacific Centre is the major shopping mall on the street, but there are also cinemas, small clothing stores, and other grungy urban shops. It's one of the few streets where businesspeople and street people mix together on a daily basis.
Downtown Vancouver is an exciting urban neighbourhood with a cosmopolitan population. The area is full of bars, boutiques, restaurants, cafés and bookstores. The pedestrian-oriented side streets are easily accessible to beaches and parks. The negative side of this density is the higher level of crime that goes with it. Access to Public Transit, the SkyTrain, WestCoast Express and SeaBus make it easy to get around, even if you don't have a car.
West End and Yaletown are a very livable part of this high-density city. The West End has a significant gay community. The waterfront Coal Harbour area, close to Stanley Park has an older, quieter crowd (well-off over-40 empty nesters) with some estimates that at half of Coal Harbour's waterfront-property dwellers are part-time Vancouverites from the U.S., Asia, and Europe. Away from the water, about 40 percent of some towers are rental units.
Condos in the West End can set you back $300,000-3 million, with many units over $1 million. Housing consists almost exclusively of high and low-rise apartment blocks, former industrial space renovated into artists' lofts and low-rise condos. In the east end of downtown are more term-stay hotels.
The shopping in the community is found along West Georgia, Robson, Denman, and Davie Streets. The nearest shopping malls are in the downtown area close to Granville.
Downtown has a number of parks scattered around the community, with the larger ones along False Creek and English Bay. Recreation is centred around the beaches along False Creek/English Bay, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, and of course, Stanley Park. The area's closeness to Downtown, Gastown, and Yaletown gives quick & easy access to the bars, restaurants, sports venues, movie theatres and performing arts venues there.
There are a number of schools in the area (map). Vancouver Public Library's architecturally stunning central branch is close by as well. Post Secondary opportunities are abundant, with everything downtown (including SFU's downtown campus at Harbour Centre) close-by, and the major universities accessible by car or public transit.