Back around 1985-86 the B.C. provincial government cleaned up a derelict industrial site on the north shore of False Creek, built a world's fair, and invited everyone; 20 million people showed up for Expo '86. Now, the site of the fair, Yaletown, has become one of the largest and most densely populated urban-redevelopment projects in North America. It's one of the city's most fashionable neighborhoods, and the Victorian-brick loading docks have become terraces for cappuccino bars and trendy restaurants.

First settled by railroad workers who followed the newly laid tracks from the town of Yale in the Fraser Canyon, Yaletown in the 1880s and '90s was probably the most lawless place in Canada: it was so far into the woods that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police complained they couldn't patrol it. The area—which also has brewpubs, day spas, retail and wholesale fashion outlets, and shops selling upscale home decor—makes the most of its waterfront location, with a seaside walk and cycle path that completely encircles False Creek.