What we now call the “Historical alley” is in fact the area where the first Chinese-born citizens settled down in Vancouver, between Canton Street and Shanghai Alley. In 1890, more than 1000 Asian-Canadians lived around that alley.
Shanghai Alley was the first street to be built and lived on. Canton Street followed in 1908.
Commercial and residential buildings shared the space, so that people living in Chinatown could have access to everything they needed within this very same neighbourhood. It is one reason why the Chinese population of Vancouver is used to living close and having a very tight community.