21 Oct2011

One of the “tourist attractions” in the historic Gastown district of Vancouver is a steam clock that literally lets off some steam every 15 minutes or so. Lest you be misled that it is some antique from a bygone era, it was actually made in 1977, well after I was born and in the heyday of disco music, when the district was spruced up for locals and tourists alike… I happened to be right under it when it let off some steam so I can claim to at least have seen that event, but Mrs. MM was inside a t-shirt shop buying a nightshirt or other doodad. What was more impressive than the steam clock to me where the fantastic hanging plant baskets attached to each of the iron street lamps on the cobblestoned streets…

…they added such a welcome burst of life and color to the area…

…and they appeared to be so healthy and lush. I am not sure if it is the city or neighborhood association that springs for the cost of these floral displays, but they were beautiful. You also saw these in other parts of Vancouver, some obviously paid for by the businesses nearby and they were a really nice touch.



  1. ami says:

    Those flower pots all over Vancouver are beautiful. The nicest ones I saw were near Canada Place. Sana we have something similar to spruce up our city.

    Oct 21, 2011 | 8:44 am


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  3. betty q. says:

    Yes, MM…they are well taken cared of. Where we live, there is a City truck or pick up with a huge drum full of water and a city employee waters them using a telescopic water gun. Since the City waters them, I can only assume that Parks and Recreation dept of where we live takes care of the cost…or maybe included in our taxes!

    Oct 21, 2011 | 9:07 am

  4. becky says:

    the first picture was just ridiculously beautiful. i would never have thought that something that beautiful could be seen outside a theme park or a home. really love your features of places abroad MM :)

    Oct 21, 2011 | 9:08 am

  5. potatokorner says:

    @MM, as always beautiful shots.

    @betty q, if our city hall in Manila could do that great a job taking care of its streets I wouldn’t mind the taxes.

    Oct 21, 2011 | 9:45 am

  6. Joseph (Vancouver) says:

    It’s funny, we were just there last night touring my out-of-town sister. Even after having lived in Vancouver for so many years I never knew that the clock is only 33 yrs old. I’ve been misleading all of our visitors through the years. LOL. Thanks for the revelation Mr MM.

    Oct 21, 2011 | 9:50 am

  7. betty q. says:

    Potatokorner…other than the flowers or hanging baskets in the summer, the City also has these very colorful banners (which I would like to get my hands on) the rest of the year. I have always wondered what they do with them. I think they change them quarterly.

    Then sometime between 2am and 4 am, the sweeping truck goes by, cleans and flushes the streets with water.

    I know, MM….what am I doing up at 4am to notice these things?!? What can I say…I am an early bird like you!

    Oct 21, 2011 | 11:16 am

  8. Lava Bien says:

    The plants are nice! The banners thouhg BettQ are done in most big cities like Madrid, SF and even San Jose to announce whatever big is going on in the city. They just look good, especially if there’s a li’l wind.
    But good luck doing the plant thing in Manila!

    Oct 22, 2011 | 1:47 am

  9. Laura says:

    Thanks MM for more info re Vancouver. I was impressed with the city. Very green, clean, active & tourist friendly. Most (if not all) taxis are hybrids. We were told that the city will not renew the taxi company’s licenses unless they switch to hybrids. We enjoyed our visit. Thanks betty q for the info re the watering system for the hanging plants. I was wondering about that myself.

    Oct 22, 2011 | 12:50 pm

  10. Joel says:

    How come they can do such a beautiful work in Canada and we just let local governments in Manila put up cheap lamp posts that breaks apart after a couple of months? Does anyone else hate the lamp posts along Roxas Blvd? I don’t know who designs them but those are ugly and obviously of low quality.

    Oct 22, 2011 | 2:08 pm

  11. Bijin says:

    Looks like Kitano-cho in Kobe in the spring time.

    Oct 22, 2011 | 10:25 pm

  12. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Yes…Vancouver is beautiful…it’s bettyq territory…tee hee….

    Oct 23, 2011 | 11:18 am

  13. joanna says:

    Those flower pots are all over Canada and they are indeed beautiful! Even in our small obscure town here in western Manitoba, we have lush hanging flower pots which are being taken cared of by our town.

    Oct 23, 2011 | 12:25 pm

  14. farida says:

    Talking about hanging baskets, here in Ferndale and Lynden, they have those beautiful, humongous hanging baskets on their lamp posts that lined the city streets. And, yes, city parks and recreation takes care of them. Have seen the flowers watered twice a day in the hot summer months, although we did not get that hot this year.

    @bettyq, would love to hook up with you and tweak my ensaymada recipe. Have to start my xmas baking soon.

    Oct 25, 2011 | 1:32 pm

  15. fmed says:

    I hate bursting bubbles but here goes….the steam clock is powered by electricity. It’s all a sham for the sake of tourism. :-)

    Oct 25, 2011 | 3:28 pm

  16. Joseph (Vancouver) says:

    fmed, I did some research on it and I would say it’s a hybrid steam/electric clock. The main engine that operates the clock is run by steam. The other features are run by electric motors.

    From Wikipedia:

    Engine. The steam engine is a Stuart #4 single expansion double acting 1″ piston engine purchased at the Stuart Turner Limited plant at Henley-on-Thames, England. (Engines of this size are typically employed by hobbyists for large model boat propulsion.) It is supplied with low pressure steam — engine inlet pressure is 17 psi (120 kPa) — from a centralized steam heating system that serves a portion of downtown Vancouver. The engine, rotating at only a few hundred revolutions per minute, drives a reduction gear train. The gear train drives an ascending chain lift to lift ball weights to a top track from which they load onto a drive chain providing the driving force to the clock while the ball weights descend.

    Electric motors. The clock uses three electric motors. First, a small gear motor drives the tune playing machine. It rotates a drum with pins that play the Westminster chimes on micro switches which operate the steam whistle solenoid valves. Second, a small fan motor blows out hot air from the roof vent on top of the clock. Third, a small fan motor pulls warm air down to the base to provide air circulation.

    Oct 25, 2011 | 4:45 pm


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