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WINDOW ON STYLE: Smoking Lily is one of the many independent boutiques opening on south Main Street

Until 20 years ago, Vancouver's Main Street — an artery running from Chinatown toward South Vancouver — marked the boundary between the city's smarter West Side and the rough-and-ready section known as East Van. How times have changed. Successive waves of artists, media types and other loft dwellers kicked off a gradual process of gentrification; the day young families started infiltrating its neighborhoods, East Van's journey to respectability was complete.

One knock-on effect of this has been the tidying up of Main Street itself. Cafés and galleries have...

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