Singapore West

Most cities have a vertical business district surrounded by lower residential neighborhoods. Not Vancouver, British Columbia, which has relatively few office buildings but scores of densely packed, extremely slim high-rise apartments. It creates the appearance of an Asian city, not North American at all. In part, this is because so many of the apartment dwellers—or at least owners—are from Hong Kong and mainland China, and are accustomed to vertical living. (It has been estimated that as many as sixty percent of new apartments are owned by non-resident investors.) Windows look out at each other, twenty feet apart. Not even midtown Manhattan has this sort of residential density. Like San Francisco, Vancouver is constrained by its peninsular site, but that doesn’t explain it entirely. Vancouver has views, of mountains and water, and that helps. This is not a banking or knowledge center like San Francisco, or a high-tech hub like Seattle, but the beautiful setting, the mild climate, the well-managed urban amenities, and the Pacific-rim location, have all come together to make the city a global attraction despite its small size (only 640,000).


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