Gastown has lost an icon. The legendary Gastown Steam Clock, the steam-powered, 16-foot-tall clock on the corner of Cambie and Water Streets, is gone.
The clock was removed on Wednesday morning, Oct. 8, by city work crews, who carted it off on a flat-bed truck. It will spend the next two months in a city works yard getting some long overdue repairs before being returned to its original location.
The clock debuted on Sept. 26, 1977. If it happens to look a lot older than that, there’s good reason. The Victorian-style timepiece – with its brass and copper finishings – was part of a larger effort to give Gastown a more vintage look and lure in tourists (other touches included the faux cobblestones laid down on Water Street). The clock was installed to cover an existing steam grate and (at least, according to Wikipedia) “prevent street people from sleeping on the spot in cold weather.”