Sam Kee Building

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Dark green paint denotes entire width of building

The Sam Kee Building, located at 8 West Pender Street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is the "narrowest commercial building in the world" according to the Guinness Book of Records.[1]

Sam Kee Building at Carrall and Pender Streets in Vancouver
1917 map showing the dimensions of the lot before and after expropriation. The remaining property is marked "BAL OF /".

The Sam Kee Company - originally owned by one of the wealthiest businessmen in Vancouver Chinatown, Mr. Chang Toy (also known as Sam Kee) - purchased the standard-sized lot in 1903. In 1912, however, Vancouver widened Pender Street and expropriated 24 feet (7.3 m) of the above-ground portion of the property—effectively (or so it was first believed) making conventional commercial use of the remaining frontage impractical, if not impossible. After Chang Toy refused the neighbour's offer to buy the remaining land, someone bet him that he couldn’t use the land for anything. In 1913, the architects Brown and Gillam designed this narrow, steel-framed building. Its ground-floor depth (from storefront to rear of building) measures 4'11" (1.50 m), with a second-floor depth (from overhanging bay window to rear) of 6' (1.83 m). The basement extends beneath the sidewalk and originally housed public baths, while the ground floor was used for offices and shops and the top story for living quarters.[2]

Historical renovation of the building was designed by Soren Rasmussen and was completed in 1986.[3] It is a tourist attraction and an insurance office.

The building is considered the narrowest commercial building in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records and was formerly also viewed as such by Ripley's Believe it or Not!, but in recent years this status has been challenged by the "Skinny Building" in Pittsburgh.[4][5] The dispute centres around the fact that while the Sam Kee Building's width varies from floor to floor, and is 6 feet wide in places, Pittsburgh's "Skinny Building" is 5'2" (1.57 m) wide on all floors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chinatown Vancouver, B.C. Sam Kee building images pictures photographs tourism". Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  2. ^ Mellon, Steve. (May 30, 2004) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Here in Downtown. Section: Lifestyle; Page F9.
  3. ^ City of Vancouver website - Heritage Walks
  4. ^ Mellon, Steve (30 May 2004). "Here: In Downtown". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on 5 February 2010.
  5. ^ O'Driscoll, Bill (August 29, 2007) Pittsburgh City Paper A unique Downtown art project holds its final show. Volume 17; Issue 35; Page 40.

Coordinates: 49°16′50″N 123°06′17″W / 49.280425°N 123.104706°W / 49.280425; -123.104706