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  1. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/little-trace-remains-of-montreals-glamorous-theatre-era Little trace remains of Montreal's glamorous theatre era LINDA GYULAI, MONTREAL GAZETTE More from Linda Gyulai, Montreal Gazette Published on: February 27, 2015 Last Updated: May 13, 2015 9:27 AM EDT Undated photo of theatres lining downtown Ste-Catherine St. in Montreal. Undated photo of theatres lining downtown Ste-Catherine St. in Montreal. There are imaginary ghosts dancing behind the plywood that’s temporarily concealing a vacant storefront on Ste-Catherine St. W. as it undergoes renovation. They’re the spirits of vaudeville and Hollywood, of stars of first silent and then talking movies, of singers, dancers and “manufacturers of mirth,” as one newspaper reviewer described a pair of vaudeville entertainers, and of generations of Montrealers who flocked to live shows and movie premieres while the location was known as Loew’s Theatre. You wouldn’t know it today, but the skinny, towering storefront a few metres west of Mansfield St., which most recently housed a Foot Locker shoe store, was once the entrance of a majestic theatre that served as Montreal’s principal vaudeville house and one of its main movie theatres for many years after it was built in 1917. Then: A print from about 1910 of His Majesty's Theatre, which was located on Guy St., just north of Ste-Catherine. Guy St., just north of Ste-Catherine St. Then: A print from about 1910 of His Majesty's Theatre, which was located on Guy St., just north of Ste-Catherine. Guy St., just north of Ste-Catherine St. Now: His Majesty's Theatre was demolished in 1963, where today stands Concordia University's engineering, computer science and visual arts complex. Now: His Majesty's Theatre was demolished in 1963, where today stands Concordia University's engineering, computer science and visual arts complex. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: The York Theatre opened in 1938 on the northwest corner of Ste-Catherine and Mackay Sts. Then: The York Theatre opened in 1938 on the northwest corner of Ste-Catherine and Mackay Sts. Now: The York Theatre was demolished in 2001 to make way for Concordia University's engineering, computer science and visual arts building. Now: The York Theatre was demolished in 2001 to make way for Concordia University's engineering, computer science and visual arts building. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: A 1972 photo of the Loews Theatre, on Ste-Catherine just west of Mansfield St. Built in 1917 by architect Thomas W. Lamb. With more than 3,000 seats, it was the largest in Montreal when it opened, and for years was the principal vaudeville stand in the city. Then: A 1972 photo of the Loews Theatre, on Ste-Catherine just west of Mansfield St. Built in 1917 by architect Thomas W. Lamb. With more than 3,000 seats, it was the largest in Montreal when it opened, and for years was the principal vaudeville stand in the city. Now: The Loew's Theatre was subdivided into five cinemas in 1976. Boarded up today, the building most recently housed a Foot Locker store. Now: The Loew's Theatre was subdivided into five cinemas in 1976. Boarded up today, the building most recently housed a Foot Locker store. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: The Strand built in 1912 on the southeast corner of Ste-Catherine and Mansfield Sts., and the first major movie theatre in Montreal's downtown. Then: The Strand built in 1912 on the southeast corner of Ste-Catherine and Mansfield Sts., and the first major movie theatre in Montreal's downtown. Roméo Gariepy / collection Cinémathèque québécoise / Roméo Gariepy / collection Cinémathèque québécoise Now: The Strand Theatre ended its days as the Pigalle before being torn down in 1973, with the neighbouring Capitol Theatre, to make way for an office tower. Now: The Strand Theatre ended its days as the Pigalle before being torn down in 1973, with the neighbouring Capitol Theatre, to make way for an office tower. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: The Capitol Theatre, about 1925. The Capitol opened in 1921 on the south side of Ste-Catherine, just west of McGill College Ave. Then: The Capitol Theatre, about 1925. The Capitol opened in 1921 on the south side of Ste-Catherine, just west of McGill College Ave. Now: The Capitol Theatre, along with the neighbouring Strand Theatre, was torn down on this block in 1973, to the chagrin of many Montrealers. Now: The Capitol Theatre, along with the neighbouring Strand Theatre, was torn down on this block in 1973, to the chagrin of many Montrealers. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: A print of the Colonial Theatre from about 1915. The theatre was renamed the Regal in 1920. Then: A print of the Colonial Theatre from about 1915. The theatre was renamed the Regal in 1920. Then: The Palace Theatre on Ste-Catherine St. between McGill College Ave. and University St. The Palace Theatre was built as the Allen Theatre for movies in 1921. Then: The Palace Theatre on Ste-Catherine St. between McGill College Ave. and University St. The Palace Theatre was built as the Allen Theatre for movies in 1921. Now: The site of the old Regal (and Colonial) theatres is now the SuperSexe strip club, and the former Palace Theatre, next door, is a restaurant. Now: The site of the old Regal (and Colonial) theatres is now the SuperSexe strip club, and the former Palace Theatre, next door, is a restaurant. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: The Gaiety Theatre, on the northeast corner of Ste-Catherine and Aylmer Sts., became a movie house in 1909. Renamed the London Theatre around 1912, later renamed The System, renamed Le Cinéma 539 in the 1970s and showed X-rated films. Then: The Gaiety Theatre, on the northeast corner of Ste-Catherine and Aylmer Sts., became a movie house in 1909. Renamed the London Theatre around 1912, later renamed The System, renamed Le Cinéma 539 in the 1970s and showed X-rated films. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette files Now: The exterior of the former Gaiety Theatre remains recognizable. Building most recently housed a store. Now: The exterior of the former Gaiety Theatre remains recognizable. Building most recently housed a store. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: Bennett's Theatre opened in Montreal in 1907, on the north side of Ste-Catherine at City Councillors St. Then: Bennett's Theatre opened in Montreal in 1907, on the north side of Ste-Catherine at City Councillors St. Now: The former Bennett's Theatre, renamed the Orpheum in 1910, is now the site of an office tower. Now: The former Bennett's Theatre, renamed the Orpheum in 1910, is now the site of an office tower. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: A large crowd gathers outside Montreal's Princess Theatre in 1936 during the opening of Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times". Original Princess was built in 1908, on Ste-Catherine at City Councillors, across the street from Bennett's Theatre. Original theatre burned down in 1915. Then: A large crowd gathers outside Montreal's Princess Theatre in 1936 during the opening of Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times". Original Princess was built in 1908, on Ste-Catherine at City Councillors, across the street from Bennett's Theatre. Original theatre burned down in 1915. The former Princess Theatre was later renamed Le Parisien, and is now a newly renovated retail outlet up for rent. The former Princess Theatre was later renamed Le Parisien, and is now a newly renovated retail outlet up for rent. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Imperial Theatre in 1913, the year it opened ion Bleury St., just north of Ste-Catherine. Imperial Theatre in 1913, the year it opened ion Bleury St., just north of Ste-Catherine. Now: The Cinéma Impérial. Now: The Cinéma Impérial. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: An undated photo of Montreal's Nickel Theatre at the southeast corner of Ste-Catherine St. W. and Bleury St. After 1912, it became known as The Tivoli Theatre. It was destroyed in a 1923 fire. Then: An undated photo of Montreal's Nickel Theatre at the southeast corner of Ste-Catherine St. W. and Bleury St. After 1912, it became known as The Tivoli Theatre. It was destroyed in a 1923 fire. Now: There's no trace now of the old Tivoli Theatre on Ste-Catherine St. at Bleury St. Now: There's no trace now of the old Tivoli Theatre on Ste-Catherine St. at Bleury St. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: The Gayety Theatre, in 1957, at the corner Ste-Catherine and St-Urbain Sts. It was the leading burlesque theatre in Montreal in its day, later transformed into the home of the Comédie Canadienne theatre company. Then: The Gayety Theatre, in 1957, at the corner Ste-Catherine and St-Urbain Sts. It was the leading burlesque theatre in Montreal in its day, later transformed into the home of the Comédie Canadienne theatre company. The site of the former Gayety Theatre today is the Théâtre du nouveau monde. The site of the former Gayety Theatre today is the Théâtre du nouveau monde. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: The Ouimetoscope at the corner Ste. Catherine St. E. and Montcalm St., was inaugurated in 1906. Then: The Ouimetoscope at the corner Ste. Catherine St. E. and Montcalm St., was inaugurated in 1906. Now: Condos and a commercial space now occupy the site of the former Ouimetoscope, but a privately erected plaque draws attention to the site's historical significance. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then: The Théâtre National, was built in 1900 on the south side of Ste-Catherine at Beaudry St. Considered the oldest French professional theatre in North America. Now: The Théâtre National, built in 1900, is now Le National, a music and live entertainment venue. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette Then and now: The grand old theatres of Ste-Catherine St. From west to east, here are some of the old theatres that once lined the street, along with what the sites look like now. By the end of its reign in the 1990s, the once glorious Loew’s was a five-screen cinema that had been eclipsed by even larger multi-screen movie theatres. The Loew’s was just one of more than a dozen lost movie and live entertainment palaces that once lined Ste-Catherine, long before Gap and Second Cup made their debuts. And you wouldn’t know that, either, because the story of Ste-Catherine’s role as a theatre row cannot be found on the street. Unlike Sherbrooke St. W. to the north, downtown Ste-Catherine boasts no historic plaques to point out its landmarks and recount the street’s history. “It was the Quartier des spectacles before there was Quartier des spectacles,” Heritage Montreal policy director Dinu Bumbaru said of the downtown stretch of Ste-Catherine. He was referring to the name of the entertainment block the city and the provincial government are building around Place des Arts between Ste-Catherine and De Maisonneuve Blvd. east of Bleury St. On its own initiative, Heritage Montreal installed 19 interpretative plaques along Sherbrooke in 1992 for Montreal’s 350th anniversary. It was an ambitious undertaking for a private, non-profit organization as it sought the cooperation of building owners to put up the plaques. The funding was provided by philanthropist Liliane M. Stewart and a number of foundations. Stewart, who presided the Stewart Museum and the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, died in May. The downtown theatres were the most important theatres in town. — Dane Lanken Heritage Montreal also installed 15 plaques around Dorchester Square in 2004. Stewart and the owners of some of the buildings in the area provided the funding. Now, with Montreal’s 375th anniversary coming in 2017, Bumbaru suggested that the city install historic plaques along Ste-Catherine. Coincidentally, city hall is in the midst of developing a revitalization plan for Ste-Catherine between Atwater and Bleury, which creates an opportunity and a budget for such an improvement, he said. Ste-Catherine began life as a residential street. It was transformed starting 120 years ago into an artery of grand stores, churches and theatres. In 1907, the city of Montreal boasted 53 cinema and concert halls and theatres, notes the Répertoire d’architecture traditionnelle, published by the former Montreal Urban Community in 1985. By 1911, the number had grown to 63. Two years later, in 1913, the city had 77 cinemas, concert halls and theatres. The most popular among them were concentrated on the downtown portion of Ste-Catherine. Today, almost all of Ste-Catherine’s early-20th-century theatres have vanished. Even the buildings that housed the theatres are mostly gone. Among the only traces of the street’s past are the Imperial theatre, still showing movies on Bleury just above Ste-Catherine, and the theatre hub formed by such venues as Club Soda, the Metropolis, the Société des arts technologiques and the Monument National at Ste-Catherine and St-Laurent Blvd. “The corner of Ste-Catherine and St-Laurent is the only place where you can still feel the concentration of theatre,” Bumbaru said. Another hint of Ste-Catherine’s connection to old cinema and live theatre is a discreet bronze plaque – again, privately erected – on a building on the southeast corner of Ste-Catherine and Montcalm St., east of the downtown core. A commemorative plaque recognizes Le Ouimetoscope in Montreal. A commemorative plaque recognizes the site of the historic Ouimetoscope theatre on Ste-Catherine St. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette The plaque pays tribute to Léo-Ernest Ouimet, an engineer and projectionist who erected on the street corner what is widely considered to have been the first theatre in Canada built specifically for movies. Ouimet opened the Ouimetoscope in 1906 out of a former recital hall. Soon after, he tore down the building and built a new and fancier Ouimetoscope dedicated to movies, which opened on the same spot in August 1907. The Cinémathèque canadienne (later renamed the Cinémathèque québécoise) put up the plaque in 1966. A commercial and condominium building sits on the site today. Ouimet, meanwhile, sold the Ouimetoscope in 1915 and moved to Hollywood. In 1920, he produced a feature film called Why Get Married? that played at Loew’s Theatre in Montreal, author Dane Lanken writes in his 1993 book Montreal Movie Palaces, a seminal work on the history of Montreal’s grand theatres. Lanken’s book also notes the Ouimetoscope may have been the first fancy movie palace in the world, and not just in Montreal. Lanken was working as a film critic at the Montreal Gazette in the early 1970s when the downtown theatres started to get demolished or have their grand interiors chopped up into multiple cinemas. Palace theatres were going the way of silent movies decades earlier. “It was really the end of the line for the big old theatres,” Lanken said in an interview. He spent 20 years gathering photos and conducting research and interviews on the city’s movie palaces for his book. People by and large lived in very dreary, cold-water flats. But for a quarter, you could go out and sit in this palace. And the doorman would open the door for you, and there would be an usher who would show you to a seat. You were treated royally for 25 cents. — Dane Lanken Lanken wasn’t the only theatre buff to lament the loss of the palace theatres. Montrealer Janet MacKinnon, who fought to preserve historic theatres in Canada, documented the significance of this city’s theatres with her organization, Historic Theatres Trust. MacKinnon died in 2011, but the Historic Theatres Trust collection is now housed at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The theatres’ history, architecture, ownership and size may be recorded, but Lanken says he agrees with Bumbaru’s suggestion to erect plaques at Ste-Catherine’s landmarks to help keep the history alive. “The downtown theatres were the most important theatres in town,” Lanken said, adding that Montreal’s principal theatres for decades were the Loew’s, the Capitol, the Palace and the Princess, all located within a few blocks of each other on Ste-Catherine. “From the early days of the movies, probably 1920 or so, until the the system broke down around 1970, movies would play first at one of these four downtown theatres,” Lanken said. “And then they would go out on what were called double bills at what were called the neighbourhood houses, like the Monkland in N.D.G., or the Rialto up north (on Parc Ave.). There were a couple dozen of these theatres in the neighbourhoods, but the prestige place to see a movie or for a movie to open in Montreal was at one of these four theatres. That’s why they were so important. And those blocks (along Ste-Catherine) certainly were the Quartier des spectacles of that time.” Most of the early 20th century theatres, such as the Loew’s, offered both films and live theatre. The decorative style of those theatres was classically inspired, based on ancient Greece and Rome, Lanken said. As a result, theatres like the Loew’s boasted columns and plaster low-relief decoration. “The grandeur of these theatres was an important selling point for them,” Lanken said. “People by and large lived in very dreary, cold-water flats. But for a quarter, you could go out and sit in this palace. And the doorman would open the door for you, and there would be an usher who would show you to a seat. You were treated royally for 25 cents.” If the theatres had sprouted somewhat organically on Ste-Catherine in the early 20th century, their destruction was in large part due to an under-appreciation of their architecture, decoration and history, Lanken said. Emblematic of the palace theatres’ plight in the 1970s was the Capitol, on Ste-Catherine just west of McGill College Ave. Lanken calls the Capitol “the greatest theatre ever built in the city.” “It was the grandest, the most spectacular and just about the biggest,” he said. “It’s so rare to walk into a room anywhere where there’s 50 feet of space over your head. But you could certainly get that in a theatre like the Capitol. “A lot of theatres would have walls or columns made of plaster painted to look like marble, but in the Capitol there was real marble. It was a very expensive theatre to build.” The Capitol was built in 1921 by Thomas W. Lamb, the master theatre architect of New York. Lamb who also built the Loew’s and hundreds of theatres across North America, for the then-new Famous Players Canadian Corp., which would become the largest chain in Canada. RELATED A bitter farewell to the Capitol Theatre Now: The Capitol Theatre, along with the neighbouring Strand Theatre, was torn down on this block in 1973, to the chagrin of many Montrealers. Now: The Capitol Theatre, along with the neighbouring Strand Theatre, was torn down on this block in 1973, to the chagrin of many Montrealers. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette In 1973, the Capitol and its neighbour, the Strand, also owned by Famous Players by then, were demolished to make way for an office tower. “They thought there was more money to be made tearing down the theatres and putting up buildings,” Lanken said of Famous Players. It was the era of mayor Jean Drapeau, to boot, so the demolition of the city’s old theatres didn’t seem to bother city officials, he added. However, they were tearing down Montreal’s collective memory. In the early 20th century, the city was on a North American circuit for touring vaudeville acts, Lanken said. Vaudeville shows were a collection of unrelated acts. “It was family entertainment and anybody could go to it,” Lanken said. The Loew’s in its heyday was the main vaudeville venue in Montreal, putting everything from skaters to acrobats to “comedy dancers” on its bill, along with movies. Ste-Catherine also boasted burlesque shows, notably at the Gayety, the leading burlesque theatre in Montreal that was built in 1912 at Ste-Catherine and St-Urbain St. Stripper Lili St. Cyr made her Montreal debut here in 1944, Lanken’s book explains. It has been home to the Théâtre du nouveau monde since 1972. “Burlesque was vaudeville, except that it had a stripper in it and maybe a chorus line,” Lanken said. “And a dirty comedian was a hallmark of it, as well.” Then: A large crowd gathers outside Montreal's Princess Theatre in 1936 during the opening of Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times". Original Princess was built in 1908, on Ste-Catherine at City Councillors, across the street from Bennett's Theatre. Original theatre burned down in 1915. Then: A large crowd gathers outside Montreal’s Princess Theatre in 1936 during the opening of Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times”.<br />Original Princess was built in 1908, on Ste-Catherine at City Councillors, across the street from Bennett’s Theatre. Original theatre burned down in 1915. Montreal Gazette files Vaudeville disappeared with the advent of “talkies” around 1929, but the Loew’s continued its program of vaudeville and movies for another decade, Lanken said. The Loew’s brought American comedic entertainer Red Skelton to Montreal before his rise from vaudeville to radio and television. Another performer to hit the stage at the Loew’s was Sally Rand, whom Hollywood filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille put in silent movies in the 1920s and who was billed as the world’s most famous fan dancer when she appeared on the bill at Loew’s in 1935 with her vaudeville act. It was said to be tamer than her burlesque act, in which she would use two ostrich feathers to playfully reveal parts of her body – minus the naughtiest parts — as she danced to Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune. By the time Leonard Schlemm was taking his first dates to the Loew’s as a McGill University commerce undergrad in the early 1970s, the theatre was strictly showing movies. But the grandeur and elegance of the theatre hasn’t faded for Schlemm, who opened the Mansfield Athletic Club inside the belly of what used to be the Loew’s in 2005. The Loew’s had been built for Marcus Loew, who by 1917 already owned 100 theatres across the U.S. and Canada and would later be a co-founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood. With over 3,000 seats, the Loew’s was the city’s largest theatre when it opened. In 2001, Club Med World spent $8 million to renovate the then-vacant space and turn it into an entertainment complex. When the venture failed, the property was divided into two lots, one for the former entrance of the theatre on Ste-Catherine, which was rented to a shoe store, and the other for the interior belly, which opens on Mansfield. The Mansfield side remained empty until Schlemm’s real-estate agent scouted it in 2004 as a potential downtown location for the international fitness centre operator to open a new club. Schlemm had opened a gym in a smaller theatre in Madrid, Spain, and says he saw the potential for the former Loew’s. He bought the nearly 50,000-square-foot lot from a real-estate company that had bought the entire property from Club Med World. The storefront portion on Ste-Catherine, still owned by the real-estate company, has long since lost the old theatre facade. The construction work going on behind the plywood now is on the modern glass exterior, the borough of Ville-Marie says. The work is being done to make way for a new commercial tenant. However, the interior of the former Loew’s is still evident inside Schlemm’s Mansfield Athletic Club, including the high ceilings and a mural. Four of the original architectural drawings for the theatre adorn a wall that leads into the workout space. While many of the grand theatres have been razed, the classically-inspired interior of the former Loew's is still evident inside the Mansfield Athletic Club, including the high ceilings and a mural. While many of the grand theatres have been razed, the classically-inspired interior of the former Loew’s is still evident inside the Mansfield Athletic Club, including the high ceilings and a mural. Peter McCabe / MONTREAL GAZETTE “Club Med had done an excellent job of refurbishing it,” Schlemm said, adding that the company preserved the decorations from the old theatre. (Lanken credits architect Mandel Sprachman for his “sensitive” renovation when he was hired in 1975 to split the Loew’s into a five-cinema theatre. Sprachman saved the dome in the ceiling and decorative elements on the walls to make it possible to one day restore the interior to its former glory.) Schlemm says he likes the idea of erecting plaques for the theatre landmarks along Ste-Catherine. At the same time, he says he recognizes that the city may have other pressing financial needs. So for now, the preservation of Montreal’s theatre row on Ste-Catherine – its history, its spirits and its few remaining fragments, anyway – relies on the will of individuals such as Schlemm and Lanken. A more concerted effort is needed, Bumbaru says. After all, it’s a street where an important piece of Montreal’s story may be lurking behind any ordinary-looking storefront sent via Tapatalk
  2. http://www.groupedayan.com/9425-rue-meilleur.php sur ce lot vacant: [sTREETVIEW]https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=9425+Rue+Meilleur&ie=UTF8&ll=45.537952,-73.656209&spn=0.001182,0.002401&sll=45.5388622,-73.6597156&sspn=0.0057713,0.0109864&hnear=9425+Rue+Meilleur,+Montr%C3%A9al,+Qu%C3%A9bec&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=45.53788,-73.656476&panoid=30JHmLjEgX1eF_6IBh9ovQ&cbp=12,323.89,,0,-9.19[/sTREETVIEW]
  3. A bridge in Mumbai Halfway to paradise A half-built bridge symbolises the urgency and the frustrations of improving India’s infrastructure Dec 22nd 2012 |From the print edition N 1988, when V.S. Naipaul arrived in Bombay, now known as Mumbai, and drove south from its airport, he could tell something unusual was happening because the traffic was so bad. It turned out that a festival of Dalits, the former untouchables, had led to crowds that blocked the roads. The Nobel-prizewinning writer complained of “fumes and heat and din” in his taxi to the Taj Hotel. The chaos was novel enough to form the opening passage of his book, “A Million Mutinies Now”. Today greater Mumbai’s population has almost doubled to 18m, and transport bedlam has become as integral to its psyche as the stockmarket, films and slums. Millions endure commutes that would qualify them for post-traumatic-stress counselling in rich countries. Rush-hour trains get so crushed that a phone or pair of glasses carried in a breast pocket will smash under the pressure of bodies. Every year perhaps 500 people perish after falling off trains in the city and 6,000 die on the tracks. If, like Mr Naipaul, you can afford a taxi, it will reek of sweat and honk and buck for inches of advantage against bigger cars, which under a Darwinian highway code have bullying rights. After monsoon storms the sewers overflow and the roads flood. On nights like this endless lines of vehicles crawl in the dark and you can hear the slop lapping on your car’s underbelly, like waves on a dinghy’s hull. But if you divert from Mr Naipaul’s route, by a creek at a place called Mahim, and turn west, you can take a different trip. Time leaps forward. India becomes China, or even Singapore. The swarm of autorickshaws fades and, after pausing at a toll booth, you find yourself on an eight-lane motorway running parallel with the coast, floating high over the sea on 120 piers, and suspended on wires from two 128-metre towers. The bridge is called the Sea Link and opened in 2009. If you open the window the air is fresh; if you put your foot down you can hit racing speed. From the bridge Mumbai’s berserk skyline seems hazy; the 23 sets of traffic lights and 40 minutes of furious traffic you are bypassing are like a bad dream. The Portuguese fort and aboriginal fishing village that you zip past feel about as real as the scenery of a Disneyland ride. For that matter, can it truly be possible that after just 4.7km, or about five minutes, all eight lanes of this glorious bridge stop in mid-air—as if King Kong had bitten them off? But alas, it is. If you keep going you will plunge into the Arabian Sea. Instead a narrow slip road delivers you back to the city. The shift is disorienting. As your car battles for space again and you pass a Dalit slum, perhaps housing the children of the folk Mr Naipaul saw, it is tempting to look back. What just happened? Viewed from the Sea Link, Mumbai seems like a mirage. But seen from the chaos of the city, it is the Sea Link that is improbable, like a giant hologram. Decent infrastructure and this megacity, maybe this country, do not belong together. Do they? Dream on If any country needs better infrastructure, it is fast-urbanising India. The government hopes a trillion dollars will be spent between 2012 and 2017, although with a creaking banking sector and jumpy investors that is optimistic. If any megacity needs better transport, it is Mumbai. Formed from seven islands, the city was given by Portugal to Charles II of England in 1661 as dowry for his marriage to Catherine of Braganza. It is a long spit whose hub is at its southern tip. Manhattan has 16 bridges, four underwater tunnels and a ferry system linking it to the mainland. Mumbai has just six bridges, all but one at its northern extremity. Two main roads, three railway lines and an airport besieged by shanty towns are its fragile links to the outside world. The city centre is like a head on a long, strangled neck. The difficulty of commuting is partly why Mumbai is so densely populated, with property prices driven high and migrants forced into slums, which now house over half the population. There are only a handful of successful state-sponsored developments: a satellite city on the mainland called Navi (New) Mumbai, some flyovers and a new office park built on marshland near the airport. What Mumbai has been unable to do in practice, it has done in theory. The first master plan to relieve the city’s woes emerged in 1948, the most recent in 2011. In the six decades in between some fine minds, from J.R.D. Tata, a revered industrialist, in 1981, to McKinsey, a consulting firm, in 2003, have had their say. There is widespread agreement on what is required. First, a road round the city’s perimeter—probably a series of Sea Link-style bridges along its entire west coast, and on its east coast a highway partly to be built on land occupied by the city’s dying old port. Second, to link this ring to the mainland, a 22km road over the sea, an idea known as the “trans-harbour link”. Third, near the end of this putative bridge, on the mainland, a new airport. And fourth, at least nine metro lines in the city itself. You can get a flavour of this Utopia in the offices of one of the many government agencies responsible for projects in Maharashtra, the state Mumbai belongs to. A huge, Lego-for-adults model built by a Singaporean firm shows the city centre bisected by an elevated bridge that sweeps in from the ocean. Vast new skyscrapers tower over the Art Deco and colonial buildings. Today’s shabby military cantonment is a nature park. Metro stations are everywhere. Jetties for ferries are abundant. A slum has become a “heritage village” with yachts moored beside it. The sea is blue, the grass is green and the buildings are spotless white. All of it is made up. Indeed of all the transport mega-projects planned for Mumbai, after decades of reports and committees, only one is in use: that surreal 4.7km stretch of the Sea Link. Kafka in Bombay What has gone wrong? One view can be heard on the wasteland at the north abutment of the Sea Link. A ragged family are smashing reinforced concrete rubble. They say they get about a dollar for every two kilos of steel inside—roughly the cost of a one-way Sea Link ticket. Nearby, dogs and feral pigs sniff around abandoned machinery as Girish, aged 52, hits the bottle with his colleagues. The pals work nights in a call centre selling Americans an erectile-dysfunction drug. “You get a quick recharge,” is the sales pitch; the most common response, they all agree, is “Fuck you”. They also agree that this derelict land is a fine spot to unwind. Yet the rumour, which seems to have originated in the nearby slum, is that it has been grabbed secretly by a tycoon to build a mall, or luxury flats; the details vary. A local priest (a church was built nearby in 1575) talks suspiciously of the “fantasy” that any such project could ever benefit the common man. In fact, the land is still owned by the government. But the conspiracy theory that Mumbai is essentially a stitch-up by the rich is not propounded only by drunk cold-callers and men of the cloth. It may be the most widely held belief in the city. Its grandest iteration is that the city’s elite has deliberately sabotaged its transport infrastructure to enrich themselves. The argument goes like this: better transport would lower the scarcity premium on land and property in downtown Mumbai, hurting builders’ profits, and in turn curbing the flow of bribes to India’s political parties. The idea that the rich control the city’s fate was fuelled by a battle in 2005-08 between Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, and his estranged brother, Anil, over a tender to build the trans-harbour link. After a legal tussle Anil undercut his brother by bidding for a concession of nine years and 11 months. The tender process was eventually abandoned. Mumbai is certainly corrupt in other ways. The chief minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, who wants to clean things up, speaks of a nexus of builders and politicians. One official reckons illegal gains of $5 billion a year have been made by builders bribing their way around planning rules. “Those bastards have ruined everything” by scaring off legitimate firms, says one boss. But the grand conspiracy theory is silly. Mukesh Ambani owns a chunk of land near the proposed new airport, the value of which would soar if the trans-harbour link were built. Builders are buying space near proposed metro stations. And without good transport links the population of south Mumbai has begun to decline, which should be bad for property prices. Most businesspeople say the city’s decay is an embarrassment. The truth is fiddlier—as the half-built Sea Link demonstrates. The bridge was commissioned in 1999 but took ten years to finish, instead of the planned two and a half. Ajit Gulabchand, the boss of HCC, the construction firm that won the contract to build it, says the project was “a Kafkaesque struggle”. He describes himself as a “south Bombay boy” and drives a Bentley through the city to his office in the north-east (he does not use the Sea Link because there are no good connections between the west and the east). He is also subject, like all tycoons, to a secondary conspiracy theory, which is that he gained by being close to Sharad Pawar, who heads a Maharashtrian political clan. Mr Gulabchand says this is rubbish. “I’m not going to deny my friendship,” he says. But, “If I’m so powerful, how come I lost money?” One recent fiasco involved a military convoy doing a U-turn, a naval ambulance, a man in flip-flops with a red flag, and thousands of angry drivers The bridge’s original budget was $74m at current exchange rates, which rose to double that (officials verify these figures). Mr Gulabchand says he is still owed around $100m. The rising cost reflects a deep problem: delays. After construction began the cash-starved road agency in charge, MSRDC, changed the plan from eight lanes to four and back to eight again. The council took an age to release the land needed to house machinery (near where the call-centre employees relax). Maritime rules banned work during the monsoon. Customs held up the import of a 5,400-tonne floating crane. Subsea telecoms cables were found in the wrong place. Old folk living nearby griped about noise pollution. Those are the kind of problems big projects face everywhere. But other hurdles were peculiarly Indian. In a 107-year-old house in the fishing village the bridge passes over at its southern end sits Vijay Worlikar, one of the “nine Patils”, or clan chiefs, who in effect run the area. He is a Koli, an aboriginal people who have been there for centuries; he has childhood memories of Iranian boats sailing to the village to trade pistachios for dried fish. “This land is our land,” he says. Mr Worlikar successfully campaigned to shift the bridge farther from the village, and for a second suspended section to be built to create a channel for the fishing fleet to sail underneath. His legal objections, along with other environmental complaints, caused years of delays. Yet he is a modern man: his daughter is a doctor and his son an executive at the airport. He blames sloppy planning. He says he is now helping the state build relations with other fishing villages in the city to try to avoid further fiascos. Cutting red tape and winning public support would be easier with political leadership. The Sea Link was opened, with a firework display, by Sonia Gandhi, the dynast of India’s ruling Congress Party, and was officially named after her assassinated husband, Rajiv. However, consistent with the rule that the more politicians celebrate a finished project, the less they did to make it happen, the Sea Link had earlier been left out to dry. Mr Gulabchand says that after the state government changed in 1999 and an energetic minister left, the plan had no sponsor to bulldoze through bureaucracy. Maharashtra’s ruling coalition since 1999, of the Congress Party and the NCP, often squabbles over who runs big projects. The politicians have rural vote banks and are afraid, as one official puts it, “to be seen to neglect the rural man”. Mr Gulabchand thinks Mumbai needs more political accountability: “The Sea Link would not have been delayed if there was a mayor responsible for doing it. His re-election would have depended on it.” For the time being, such a change in the city’s governance seems unlikely. Mumbai’s biggest secret To grow fast India needs lots more infrastructure. But lately spending has been falling. The central bank thinks that the value of envisioned projects dropped by 52% in 2011-12. The slump reflects worries about red tape, corruption and doubts about the profitability of public-private partnerships (PPPs). In Mumbai it is easy to despair. “The whole spirit of doing things has gone,” says Mr Gulabchand. Five kilometres south of Mr Worlikar’s village is a fenced plot by the sea where men sit on plastic seats, apparently anticipating, like actors in a production of “Waiting for Godot”, the next section of the Sea Link to arrive. It could be a while. The winner of a PPP project to build and run it, Anil Ambani, has got cold feet. A political tussle has erupted, with the NCP keen to build a bridge using public funds and Congress preferring a road on reclaimed land. Nothing may happen for years. Yet, just as the Sea Link manages those 4.7km of elevated bliss, some projects are moving. Beneath a hill owned by an atomic research agency in north Mumbai, roaring diggers have almost finished excavating two half-kilometre-long tunnels. Outside, in both directions, the ghastly task of clearing slums has been accomplished and their residents moved to blocks of flats nearby. This is part of Mumbai’s best-kept secret—the Eastern Freeway, a new road stretching all the way down the city’s east coast, on the opposite side from the Sea Link, using tunnels and stilts. It should open in 2013, about five years after work began. J.R. Dhane, an engineer on the project, says it has been like painstakingly weaving a thread through the city’s dense fabric. Elsewhere the first metro line is almost finished, its platforms inches away from living-room windows, an experimental monorail is coming up, and a new round of bids is set to begin on a contract to build and operate a $2 billion trans-harbour link. These projects are all being run by the MMRDA, a state development body that has stepped into the vacuum. It owns land worth $12 billion, which it sells to help finance projects, and is viewed as clean and technocratic. Its boss, Rahul Asthana, says that progress is being made, but seems cautious about the city making a Shanghai-style great leap forward. In all probability Mumbai will do enough to prevent a crisis, but not enough to fulfil its vast potential or quickly transform the quality of most of its people’s lives. The same is true of infrastructure across India. And what of that 4.7km stretch of the Sea Link, stranded out there, all alone? The bridge is in good nick but seems to be run poorly by the road agency, MSRDC (its chief declined interview requests). Vehicle numbers are thought to be half those expected. The financial impact is hard to assess: the most recent annual report on the agency’s website is from 2008. Waiting for Utopia Meanwhile the toll-booth system has become a slapstick affair, with a maze of concrete chicanes prone to collapse, complex cash fares and overstaffed booths. Usually receipts are printed, but occasionally they are hand-stamped on the kind of paper used for bingo tickets. Accusations of graft swirl. An electronic swipe system has apparently been introduced but seems to be available only to VIPs. After a suicide jump in August it emerged that the CCTV system to help stop terrorist attacks was not working properly. One recent fiasco involved a military convoy doing a U-turn on the bridge, a naval ambulance, a man in flip-flops with a red flag like a Formula One race official, and thousands of angry drivers. This created a traffic jam along most of the Sea Link, which seemed at last to have become part of the city. Often couples on motorbikes park by the bridge. They are not there to ride on it—two-wheelers are prohibited. They are not seeking intimacy, for the choice spot for that is the rocks around the headland at low tide. Nor are they there for the ambience, for the ground nearby features broken promenades, weeds and rats. They are there for the view. When you see its sweeping cords silhouetted against a dusky sky, the Sea Link is as close to a wonder as Mumbai can offer. And whether this ritual demonstrates low expectations or hope is in the minds of the beholders alone. http://www.economist.com/news/christmas-specials/21568582-half-built-bridge-symbolises-urgency-and-frustrations-improving-indias
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_de_la_Bourse Somebody used to have a rendering with the 3 towers on SSP, but I can't find it anymore...
  5. Postez des images des projets qui n'ont jamais étés construits à Montréal dans ce fil. Post images of projects that were never built in Montreal in this thread. Nouveau Station Bonaventure (1900) - Pour remplacer l'ancienne station:
  6. The world's big digs http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/06/19/f-big-digs.html Last Updated: Monday, June 23, 2008 | 10:26 AM ET CBC News Construction on Montreal's Honoré Mercier Bridge, billed as Canada's largest bridge repair, has a price tag of $66 million for its first phase. Work is expected to last until 2011. It's a big endeavour, to be sure. But it still pales in comparison to the scope of massive projects planned or underway around the world. Consider China's $63-billion — yes, billion — water diversion project, or Canada's own ambitious plans for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Many of these projects break new ground, figuratively as well as literally, in striving to set new world standards. They want to be tallest, widest, first or most expensive works of their kind. Here are some of the world's biggest digs, either underway or planned: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- China: north-south water diversion Estimated cost: $63 billion With this massive hydro-engineering plan, China seeks to deliver water from the water-rich Yangtze River area in the south to parched regions in the country's north and west. In essence, the Chinese want to build a series of new, artificial rivers. Adopted in 2002, the ambitious plan calls for three water routes to eventually be built. Planners hope that the 1,250-km central and 1,150-km eastern routes will divert 13 billion cubic metres of water to Beijing and other northern cities by 2010. Due for completion in 2050, the western route cuts through the mountains of Tibet to reach China's arid northwestern provinces. If completed as planned, all three routes would carry a torrent of water as powerful as the flow of the Yellow River, China's second-longest waterway. The key word is "planned": Parts of the project have been delayed by technological and financial difficulties and concerns over water pollution, state media has reported. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Vancouver: 2010 Olympic infrastructure Estimated cost: $2.6 billion Two major projects are transforming transportation in British Columbia's Lower Mainland in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The 80-kilometre Sea to Sky highway, from Vancouver to the resort town of Whistler, is being improved at an estimated cost of $600 million. New passing lanes are being added and some sections straightened to improve safety. The new Canada Line, meanwhile, will provide a 19.5-km rail link between Vancouver and the city's international airport in Richmond. Completion of the 16-stop line is expected in 2009 in advance of the beginning of the Games. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Panama: Panama Canal expansion Estimated cost: $5.25 billion Workers use heavy machinery at the site of the Panama Canal expansion project in Panama City on April 28, 2008. (Arnulfo Franco/Associated Press) Approved in a 2006 national referendum, this project will be the largest improvement in the historic waterway's history. The canal's locks will be widened by 17 metres to 50 metres to accommodate modern ocean-faring vessels. By the time of its expected wrap-up in 2014, officials expect the canal's shipping capacity will be doubled. That will be good news for the ships who make the 14,000 annual trips through the 82-km-long canal. The smaller waterway has forced costly queues in recent years. If finished as planned in 2014, the expansion will open at the same time as the Panama Canal's 100th anniversary. It was originally built by the Americans and French and transferred to full Panamanian control in 1999. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- United Arab Emirates: Burj Dubai Estimated cost: $4 billion With their ultra-tall Burj Dubai, Emaar Properties want to do more than part the clouds with their building. The developers want to make a statement. A big statement. Even while still under construction, the Burj Dubai is already the world's tallest free-standing structure, eclipsing Toronto's 553-metre-tall CN Tower in September 2007. When completed in late 2009, the building will exceed 800 metres and house offices, a glitzy hotel and residential space. By then, the skyscraper will have consumed 330,000 metric tonnes of concrete, 39,000 metric tonnes of steel rebar and 142,000 square metres of glass, and 22 million worker hours of labour. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Algeria: east-west highway Estimated cost: $13 billion Flush with a windfall of oil and gas revenues, the Algerian government has embarked on a $144-billion project to upgrade the country's public works. Schools, hospitals and a subway for the capital, Algiers, are all being built. A cornerstone will be the east-west highway that will span more than 1,200 km across the country, connecting the Tunisian border in the east with Morocco in the west. Expected to be completed in 2010 and financed completely by the government, the roadway will also connect Algiers and other major cities in the country's north. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- China: Three Gorges Dam Estimated cost: $25 billion Spanning the Yangtze River, Three Gorges is 210 metres high and more than two kilometres long. Critics call it an environmental nightmare, but China's leaders believe it will control flooding along the Yangtze, harnessing an estimated 18,000 megawatts of power by its eventual completion in 2009. However, the dam has displaced more than one million people and it's estimated rising waters will submerge 1,200 towns and villages. Work began in 1993 on the project which, when complete, will produce three times the capacity of Canada's Churchill Falls generating station in Newfoundland and Labrador. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moscow: Crystal Island Estimated cost: $4 billion Once completed, this sprawling residential and commercial complex near the heart of Moscow is expected to be one of the world's largest and most expensive buildings. British architect Norman Foster has drafted plans for a tent-like structure with 2.5 million square metres of ground space set around a 450-metre peak. As planned, Crystal Island would include an observatory deck near the top, as well as apartments, entertainment facilities and sports complexes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- San Francisco: Bay Bridge Estimated cost:$6.3 billion Upon its completion in 1936, the Bay Bridge was hailed as an engineering triumph, spanning the 13 kilometres between San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. But a major 1989 earthquake, which caused extensive damage to the bridge, drove home the need for repairs to guard against future temblors. So this massive repair project was drawn up. The eastern span will be entirely rebuilt and its western portions greatly overhauled. Work on the bridge, which carries an estimated 280,000 cars per day, is expected to wrap up in 2013. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Australia: Brisbane bypass tunnel Estimated cost: $3 billion This big dig will eventually deliver Australia's largest tunnel, built under the streets of the city of Brisbane. Named the Clem Jones Tunnel after a popular former mayor, it will provide another north-south traffic artery through the city. The goal for completion is the end of 2009. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Italy: Strait of Messina Bridge Estimated cost: $9 billion Since Roman times, Italian leaders have dreamed of a fixed link between the mainland and the island of Sicily. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tried to bring such a plan to life after his election in 2001, only to have it scuppered after a change of government in 2006. The April 2008 election restored Berlusconi to power and gave the idea a second life. The new plan calls for a 3.3-kilometre suspension bridge — it would be the world's longest, besting the current world record holder by almost 1.5 kilometres. Construction could begin in 2010 and wrap up by 2016, a government official says. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Las Vegas: CityCenter Estimated cost: $9 billion Dubbed a "city within a city" on the famous Las Vegas Strip, this monster complex will combine a resort casino called Aria, along with several other hotels and residential buildings. CityCenter will cover 76 acres after its expected completion in 2009. A little more than 46,000 square metres of space will be dedicated to The Crystals, a complex featuring restaurants, retail and other entertainment. The project will employ about 7,000 construction workers, according to the developers.
  7. Does anyone know what the status is on the construction that was being done in the Olympic Stadium tower? http://www.busac.com/index.php?lang=an&sect=3&offset=0&region=5&id=5733552 Judging by the 3D tour http://www.busac.com/previz/on the Busac Real Estate site, it looks like they are planning to remove some of the concrete panels on the side of the tower and replace them with more windows. Thus creating 20 floors of office space. The floor spaces in the tour were built with very high ceilings and windows that were much to high. I wonder if and how many floors they might be adding to fill up these large rooms. If anyone has anymore info on this project or pictures of construction of any part of the Olympic Complex I would be very interested. All Pictures are from Busac Real Estate www.Busac.com
  8. Quel chance donnez vous que ce projet se réalise? -------------------------------------------- What chance do you think this project has of getting built?
  9. U.S. firm plans private hospital in Griffintown Jason Magder Montreal Gazette Wednesday, February 06, 2008 An American company that specializes in medical tourism is planning to set up a private hospital at the southeast end of Griffintown. The company is hoping to occupy at least 24 stories of office space as part of a construction project planned for the area bordered by the Peel Basin and the Bonaventure Expressway. Roland Hakim, one of the developers, wouldn't reveal the name of the medical tourism company, but said the health complex would serve mostly people travelling to undergo medical procedures, such as knee and hip replacements, but could also serve people from this country. The hospital would have the same comforts as a four-star or five-star hotel, Hakim said. He added medical tourism is becoming very popular. People travel to undergo medical procedures, either because it's usually less expensive than doing it in their own countries, or they want to schedule a vacation around their recovery period. It would be part of a 2.8 hectare project that includes an intermodal station, for a planned tramway into Griffintown, as well as a train that is planned to link Montreal with the South Shore. The project also calls for a heli-port at the top of one of the towers where several helicopters can land. There would be a movie theater, shops, restaurants, conference rooms, office towers and a hotel. "It would be the first thing people see when they come to Montreal and we want it to be something nice," Hakim said. He said the first phase of the project, which includes the hospital, could be built in three years. However, Pierre Varadi, Hakim's partner in this project, and the president of Canvar, said nothing can be built before the Bonaventure Expressway is torn down and rebuilt at street level, a project still in the planning phase. "They say they will do it within four years, but I don't know if they will do it that quickly," he said. The development is one of many being planned for the area. Canada Lands is expected to present a proposal later this year to redevelop the defunct Canada Post sorting station. The massive project would cover about 11 hectares of land and would be built just east of the 10.2 hectare project proposed in November by the company Devimco. Hakim said development of Griffintown is inevitable. "The downtown core has to expand and the only place it can expand is further south," he said. "This will become the new downtown core."
  10. Is America's suburban dream collapsing into a nightmare? Suburban neighborhoods are becoming refuges for those outpriced in gentrifying inner-cities. By Lara Farrar For CNN (CNN) -- When Shaun Yandell proposed to his longtime girlfriend Gina Marasco on the doorstep of their new home in the sunny suburb of Elk Grove, California, four years ago, he never imagined things would get this bad. But they did, and it happened almost overnight. art.jpg "It is going to be heartbreak," Yandell told CNN. "But we are hanging on." Yandell's marriage isn't falling apart: his neighborhood is. Devastated by the subprime mortgage crisis, hundreds of homes have been foreclosed and thousands of residents have been forced to move, leaving in their wake a not-so-pleasant path of empty houses, unkempt lawns, vacant strip malls, graffiti-sprayed desolate sidewalks and even increased crime. In Elk Grove, some homeowners not only cut their own grass but also trim the yards of vacant homes on their streets, hoping to deter gangs and criminals from moving in. Other residents discovered that with some of the empty houses, it wasn't what was growing outside that was the problem. Susan McDonald, president of a local neighborhood association aimed at saving the lost suburban paradise, told CNN that around her cul-de-sac, federal agents recently busted several pot homes with vast crops of marijuana growing from floor to ceiling. And only a couple of weeks ago, Yandell said he overheard a group of teenagers gathered on the street outside his back patio, talking about a robbery they had just committed. When they lit a street sign on fire, Yandell called the cops. "This is not like a rare thing anymore," he said. "I get big congregations of people cussing -- stuff I can't even fathom doing when I was a kid." Don't Miss For Yandell, his wife and many other residents trying to stick it out, the white picket fence of an American dream has faded into a seemingly hopeless suburban nightmare. "The forecast is gloomy," he told CNN. While the foreclosure epidemic has left communities across the United States overrun with unoccupied houses and overgrown grass, underneath the chaos another trend is quietly emerging that, over the next several decades, could change the face of suburban American life as we know it. This trend, according to Christopher Leinberger, an urban planning professor at the University of Michigan and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, stems not only from changing demographics but also from a major shift in the way an increasing number of Americans -- especially younger generations -- want to live and work. "The American dream is absolutely changing," he told CNN. This change can be witnessed in places like Atlanta, Georgia, Detroit, Michigan, and Dallas, Texas, said Leinberger, where once rundown downtowns are being revitalized by well-educated, young professionals who have no desire to live in a detached single family home typical of a suburbia where life is often centered around long commutes and cars. Instead, they are looking for what Leinberger calls "walkable urbanism" -- both small communities and big cities characterized by efficient mass transit systems and high density developments enabling residents to walk virtually everywhere for everything -- from home to work to restaurants to movie theaters. The so-called New Urbanism movement emerged in the mid-90s and has been steadily gaining momentum, especially with rising energy costs, environmental concerns and health problems associated with what Leinberger calls "drivable suburbanism" -- a low-density built environment plan that emerged around the end of the World War II and has been the dominant design in the U.S. ever since. Thirty-five percent of the nation's wealth, according to Leinberger, has been invested in constructing this drivable suburban landscape. But now, Leinberger told CNN, it appears the pendulum is beginning to swing back in favor of the type of walkable community that existed long before the advent of the once fashionable suburbs in the 1940s. He says it is being driven by generations molded by television shows like "Seinfeld" and "Friends," where city life is shown as being cool again -- a thing to flock to, rather than flee. "The image of the city was once something to be left behind," said Leinberger. Changing demographics are also fueling new demands as the number of households with children continues to decline. By the end of the next decade, the number of single-person households in the United States will almost equal those with kids, Leinberger said. And aging baby boomers are looking for a more urban lifestyle as they downsize from large homes in the suburbs to more compact town houses in more densely built locations. Recent market research indicates that up to 40 percent of households surveyed in selected metropolitan areas want to live in walkable urban areas, said Leinberger. The desire is also substantiated by real estate prices for urban residential space, which are 40 to 200 percent higher than in traditional suburban neighborhoods -- this price variation can be found both in cities and small communities equipped with walkable infrastructure, he said. The result is an oversupply of depreciating suburban housing and a pent-up demand for walkable urban space, which is unlikely to be met for a number of years. That's mainly, according to Leinberger, because the built environment changes very slowly; and also because governmental policies and zoning laws are largely prohibitive to the construction of complicated high-density developments. But as the market catches up to the demand for more mixed use communities, the United States could see a notable structural transformation in the way its population lives -- Arthur C. Nelson, director of Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Institute, estimates, for example, that half of the real-estate development built by 2025 will not have existed in 2000. Yet Nelson also estimates that in 2025 there will be a surplus of 22 million large-lot homes that will not be left vacant in a suburban wasteland but instead occupied by lower classes who have been driven out of their once affordable inner-city apartments and houses. The so-called McMansion, he said, will become the new multi-family home for the poor. "What is going to happen is lower and lower-middle income families squeezed out of downtown and glamorous suburban locations are going to be pushed economically into these McMansions at the suburban fringe," said Nelson. "There will probably be 10 people living in one house." In Shaun Yandell's neighborhood, this has already started to happen. Houses once filled with single families are now rented out by low-income tenants. Yandell speculates that they're coming from nearby Sacramento, where the downtown is undergoing substantial gentrification, or perhaps from some other area where prices have gotten too high. He isn't really sure. But one thing Yandell is sure about is that he isn't going to leave his sunny suburban neighborhood unless he has to, and if that happens, he says he would only want to move to another one just like it. "It's the American dream, you know," he said. "The American dream." http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/06/16/suburb.city/index.html
  11. Before he became a sugar manufacturer, John Redpath helped build the Rideau Canal Aug 19, 2007 04:30 AM Donna Jean Mackinnon Toronto Star John Redpath's name lives on thanks to his sugar company, but the role he played in building the Rideau Canal is barely a whisper in the annals of Canadian history. On the occasion of its 175th anniversary, the canal was named a World Heritage site earlier this summer by UNESCO, which called it "an engineering masterpiece" and a work of "human genius." Redpath was the most prominent of the four contractors for the canal. A leading Montreal builder, he had risen from humble origins: orphaned as a child in Scotland, he started out as a stonemason. About 10,000 men built the 201-kilometre canal, which starts in Ottawa below the Parliament Buildings and ends at Kingstone Mills, east of Kingston. Connecting wilderness rivers and streams at different levels, they had to cut through solid rock and endure many hardships, including malaria – which also afflicted Redpath. When completed in 1832, the canal had 19 kilometres of man-made runs and 47 locks. It was the biggest canal in North America at the time. Today it's used for pleasure boating. Redpath also constructed several of Montreal's most important buildings, including Notre Dame Cathedral. It still stands a testimony to his skill and reputation. In the 19th century, it was rare for a Catholic diocese to award a contract as lucrative and prestigious as a major cathedral to a strict Presbyterian. Redpath's climb to wealth and power rivals that of another Scottish immigrant, U.S. steel baron Andrew Carnegie – a name known to all Americans. Redpath was born near Edinburgh in 1776. At 13 he was apprenticed to stonemason John Drummond. Ten years later, Redpath immigrated to Lower Canada with three male companions. They arrived in Quebec City in the coldest year of the 19th century – it's remembered as the year without a summer. Food was scarce, and there wasn't any work. Penniless, the four Scots walked to Montreal – most of the way in bare feet, to save their shoes for job hunting. "John started digging toilets," says Richard Feltoe, curator of the Redpath museum and author of Redpath's biography, A Gentleman of Substance. "Then he invests his money into hiring men so he can do bigger jobs, and soon he has a little business. By the time John is 40, he is a multi-millionaire." In 1826, the supervising engineer of the Rideau Canal, Lt.-Col. John By of the Royal Engineers, contracted the work out to Redpath, who formed a partnership with three other builders. They pooled their money and later reaped profits from shipping on the canal. The Rideau was conceived as an alternative to the St. Lawrence River. After the War of 1812 against the Americans, the St. Lawrence, part of which borders the U.S., was considered dangerous and a threat to British security. REDPATH'S JOB was to build a dam at Jones Falls, which meant blocking an active river. "He had stones hand-hewn three miles away and transported them to the site on rollers, just like the Egyptians did for the pyramids," Feltoe says. At 107 metres long and 20 metres high, the dam is the largest in the former British Empire. When Redpath travelled to Montreal from Jones Falls for supplies, he'd ask his employees what they needed, and then filled their orders. "John always remembered what it was like to be at the bottom of the pile," Feltoe says. Redpath's endeavours after the canal's completion included organizing a "secret" underground army in 1837 to fight (Louis) Papineau's Patriots, who were plotting against the British and planning to separate Quebec. Montreal's English-speaking businessmen saw this French aggression as a threat to their livelihood. In the 1840s, Redpath went into mercantile trading. In 1846, England decided on free trade without consulting the colonies. This bankrupted Montreal's mercantile system, and Redpath lost millions. Eventually, he decided to go into sugar, investing every penny in building a refinery by Montreal's Lachine Canal. When the Canada Sugar Refinery opened in 1854, it was Montreal's first industrial building. Sugar was kind to Redpath, who recorded a profit of $89,546.98 in 1860 – a huge sum in those days. By 1867, Redpath was a man of influence. He served on the board of the Bank of Montreal, controlled policy for the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and was involved in Confederation. He financed education, job training and apprenticeship programs for the poor. Redpath also found time to marry twice and father 17 children. Shortly after his first wife died, he successfully courted Jane Drummond, the daughter of the stonemason with whom he had apprenticed. She was 19, and Redpath, 39. Redpath died of stroke in 1869, at 72. The refinery continued to prosper under the Redpaths until World War I, when the Canadian government took over the sugar industry. The business was somewhat revived in the 1930s, and then commandeered again by the government in 1939. By the 1950s, the industry was in ruins. British-based Tate & Lyle bought 51 per cent of Redpath shares, modernized the Montreal plant and built a new cane sugar plant in Toronto, on Queen's Quay E. In 1979, T & L bought all Redpath shares and operated the Toronto plant until February 2007, when it was sold to American Sugar Refining, Inc. But John Redpath's signature, the world's oldest trademark for a food product, remains on the packaging.
  12. Montreal: Affordable Winter Base for Families The blackboard menu is in French and all around the little cafe, people are chattering in French, nibbling on croissants and sipping cafe au lait. But we're a lot closer to home than Paris. Welcome to Montreal, just a scant hour-long flight or a 370-mile drive from New York, or an hour's drive from the border of Vermont. Most everyone, it seems, speaks English, as well as French, so there's no need for my 16-year-old daughter, Melanie, to practice her French, she says happily. Another plus: Though there are no bargains here for Americans anymore now that the Canadian "loonie" is about the same value as a U.S. dollar, at least we can soak up the foreign ambiance without spending so much in Europe where the dollar is so weak against the Euro. Especially this time of year, you can find hotel rooms starting at $135 a night (http://www.findyourmontreal.com). Mel and I have come to Montreal for a mother-daughter weekend getaway and a look at McGill University, one of four in this oh-so-cosmopolitan city, which visitors can't help but love. Even our taxi drivers wax eloquent about their city - the restaurants! (There are more than 6,000 offering everything from French to Ethiopian to Montreal's famous bagels.) The museums! (There are more than 30. Visit http://www.museemontreal.org for the Montreal Museums Pass.) The theater, dance companies and festivals that go on all year! (There are more than 90, including the popular la Fete des Neiges de Montreal in January.) The shopping! (Simons, http://www.simons.ca, on Montreal's famous Ste-Catherine Street, we discover, is a good bet for young fashionistas on a budget. Such a clean city! So many parks; there are 1,009 of them and scores of green spaces. Let's not forget the 21-mile Underground Pedestrian Network that connects everything from metro stations to restaurants to skating rinks, office buildings, hospitals, libraries and nearly 1,000 retail shops. With ski areas just an hour away, I think, Montreal would prove a good, affordable winter base for families whose members aren't equally passionate about the slopes. Mel and I are ensconced in one of the city's many boutique hotels, the 59-room HotelXIX Siecle (http://www.hotelxixsiecle.com), which was built in a 19th-century bank building just a short walk from the historic cobble-stoned streets of the Old Port on the St. Lawrence River where this city began. And I love that breakfast is included. I promise Mel if she goes with me to the Pointe-a-Calliere, the Montreal museum of Archeology and History that tells the story of this city from its first Native-American settlers - our next stop will be Ste-Catherine Street where she can shop till she drops at street level and at the three interconnected malls underground. She liked the museum more than she expected - thanks to the terrific multimedia show and its excellent introduction to Montreal, from the first North Americans to the arrival of French settlers in 1642 and then later, the British. The museum is actually built atop authentic archeological remains, enabling visitors to take an underground archeological tour. Models set in the floor reveal how Place Royale evolved through the centuries and the exhibits include displays of artifacts found here, including dice, crockery, old combs and beer caps. Virtual historic figures also pop up to chat about their era. Even kids who hate museums can't help but be intrigued - and leave with a much better understanding of the cultures that have melded to make this city what it is today. Last modified: October 07. 2007 9:33AM
  13. Downtown lacks affordable housing: group Jan RavensbergenThe Gazette Wednesday, May 21, 2008 MONTREAL - Lower-income Montrealers - anybody with annual family revenue of $55,000 or less - are getting the squeeze during the city's downtown condo-construction boom, a study released Wednesday concludes. No social or community housing was built in the downtown Ville Marie borough during 2006, a round-table group on downtown housing said. Construction of that type of affordable housing completely dried up, plunging to zero from 11 per cent of residential construction across the borough during 2005. For the two years, an overall total of 184 such housing units were built in Ville Marie. Among the overall total of 3,186 units, that boils down to roughly one affordable unit for every 17 built. The report was produced by the Department of urban and tourism studies at l'Université de Montréal, with the participation of the Comité logement Centre-Sud, which represents tenants. "We need a counterweight to the speculative effect brought to the downtown by such projects as the Quartier des spectacles, the new (French-language) super-hospital and the expansion of the universities," said Éric Michaud, coordinator of the tenants' group. The Quebec, municipal and federal governments have to put in major financing to ensure that construction of affordable housing can resume in Ville Marie, Michaud said. However, he added, the 121-page study wasn't designed to produce a cost estimate, and didn't. Across Montreal as a whole in 2006, there was a slight decline in the production of what is considered affordable housing as a proportion of overall residential construction - to 12.3 per cent in 2006 from 13.8 per cent in 2005. As a 10-year objective from 2004, the city's urban plan foresees construction of between 60,000 and 75,000 new housing units. Of those, 30 per cent, or 18,000 to 22,500 units, would be considered affordable, units occupied by households with annual income of $55,000 or less. Half of these would be government-financed housing for low- or very-low-income tenants, with annual revenue of $35,000 or less. "Downtown, there is a long way to go," Michaud said. About 58 per cent of households in Ville Marie report annual income of $35,000 or less, according to the study. Across all of Montreal's 19 boroughs, the proportion is a significantly less 47 per cent. [email protected] © The Gazette 2008 http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=e349d22d-d262-45e3-bcef-537dbd1cc360
  14. having recently walked through griffintown from downtown towards verdun i found that while the area is filled with many condo projects most of them look they have been there for quite a while and they all seem to be waiting after one another to 'pop' from the ground ... in the meantime the place still looks awfully desolate and abandoned and you have to think that this has an effect on the health of those projects - it's not like the city lacks any plans for griffintown but don't you think they should be more proactive about it and inject some fund in the neighborhood to help spur the growth of all these residential towers instead of waiting for them to actually get built before they do anything ? chicken and the egg kinda situation now it seems but imo the city should be the first to do actually do something and not the private developers .. after all all these years down the road its the city that will still be collecting tax funds if anything gets built - not the initial investors
  15. How Skyscrapers Can Save the City BESIDES MAKING CITIES MORE AFFORDABLE AND ARCHITECTURALLY INTERESTING, TALL BUILDINGS ARE GREENER THAN SPRAWL, AND THEY FOSTER SOCIAL CAPITAL AND CREATIVITY. YET SOME URBAN PLANNERS AND PRESERVATIONISTS SEEM TO HAVE A MISPLACED FEAR OF HEIGHTS THAT YIELDS DAMAGING RESTRICTIONS ON HOW TALL A BUILDING CAN BE. FROM NEW YORK TO PARIS TO MUMBAI, THERE’S A POWERFUL CASE FOR BUILDING UP, NOT OUT. By Edward Glaeser IMAGE CREDIT: LEONELLO CALVETTI/BERNSTEIN & ANDRIULLI IN THE BOOK of Genesis, the builders of Babel declared, “Come, let us build us a city and a tower with its top in the heavens. And let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth.” These early developers correctly understood that cities could connect humanity. But God punished them for monumentalizing terrestrial, rather than celestial, glory. For more than 2,000 years, Western city builders took this story’s warning to heart, and the tallest structures they erected were typically church spires. In the late Middle Ages, the wool-making center of Bruges became one of the first places where a secular structure, a 354-foot belfry built to celebrate cloth-making, towered over nearby churches. But elsewhere another four or five centuries passed before secular structures surpassed religious ones. With its 281-foot spire, Trinity Church was the tallest building in New York City until 1890. Perhaps that year, when Trinity’s spire was eclipsed by a skyscraper built to house Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, should be seen as the true start of the irreligious 20th century. At almost the same time, Paris celebrated its growing wealth by erecting the 1,000-foot Eiffel Tower, which was 700 feet taller than the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Also see: Interactive Graphic: How High Can We Go? The ceaseless climb of the world's skyscrapers is a story of ever-evolving challenges. Here's how we reached the heights we have—and where we might go from here. Since that tower in Babel, height has been seen both as a symbol of power and as a way to provide more space on a fixed amount of land. The belfry of Trinity Church and Gustave Eiffel’s tower did not provide usable space. They were massive monuments to God and to French engineering, respectively. Pulitzer’s World Building was certainly a monument to Pulitzer, but it was also a relatively practical means of getting his growing news operation into a single building. For centuries, ever taller buildings have made it possible to cram more and more people onto an acre of land. Yet until the 19th century, the move upward was a moderate evolution, in which two-story buildings were gradually replaced by four- and six-story buildings. Until the 19th century, heights were restricted by the cost of building and the limits on our desire to climb stairs. Church spires and belfry towers could pierce the heavens, but only because they were narrow and few people other than the occasional bell-ringer had to climb them. Tall buildings became possible in the 19th century, when American innovators solved the twin problems of safely moving people up and down and creating tall buildings without enormously thick lower walls. Elisha Otis didn’t invent the elevator; Archimedes is believed to have built one 2,200 years ago. And Louis XV is said to have had a personal lift installed in Versailles so that he could visit his mistress. But before the elevator could become mass transit, it needed a good source of power, and it needed to be safe. Matthew Boulton and James Watt provided the early steam engines used to power industrial elevators, which were either pulled up by ropes or pushed up hydraulically. As engines improved, so did the speed and power of elevators that could haul coal out of mines or grain from boats. But humans were still wary of traveling long distances upward in a machine that could easily break and send them hurtling downward. Otis, tinkering in a sawmill in Yonkers, took the danger out of vertical transit. He invented a safety brake and presented it in 1854 at New York’s Crystal Palace Exposition. He had himself hoisted on a platform, and then, dramatically, an axman severed the suspending rope. The platform dropped slightly, then came to a halt as the safety brake engaged. The Otis elevator became a sensation. In the 1870s, it enabled pathbreaking structures, like Richard Morris Hunt’s Tribune Building in New York, to reach 10 stories. Across the Atlantic, London’s 269-foot St. Pancras Station was taller even than the Tribune Building. But the fortress-like appearance of St. Pancras hints at the building’s core problem. It lacks the critical cost-reducing ingredient of the modern skyscraper: a load-bearing steel skeleton. Traditional buildings, like St. Pancras or the Tribune Building, needed extremely strong lower walls to support their weight. The higher a building went, the thicker its lower walls had to be, and that made costs almost prohibitive, unless you were building a really narrow spire. The load-bearing steel skeleton, which pretty much defines a skyscraper, applies the same engineering principles used in balloon-frame houses, which reduced the costs of building throughout rural 19th-century America. A balloon-frame house uses a light skeleton made of standardized boards to support its weight. The walls are essentially hung on the frame like a curtain. Skyscrapers also rest their weight on a skeleton frame, but in this case the frame is made of steel, which became increasingly affordable in the late 19th century. THERE IS A lively architectural debate about who invented the skyscraper—reflecting the fact that the skyscraper, like most other gifts of the city, didn’t occur in a social vacuum, and did not occur all at once. William Le Baron Jenney’s 138-foot Home Insurance Building, built in Chicago in 1885, is often seen as the first true skyscraper. But Jenney’s skyscraper didn’t have a complete steel skeleton. It just had two iron-reinforced walls. Other tall buildings in Chicago, such as the Montauk Building, designed by Daniel Burnham and John Root and built two years earlier, had already used steel reinforcement. Industrial structures, like the McCullough Shot and Lead Tower in New York and the St. Ouen dock warehouse near Paris, had used iron frames decades before. Jenney’s proto-skyscraper was a patchwork, stitching together his own innovations with ideas that were in the air in Chicago, a city rich with architects. Other builders, like Burnham and Root, their engineer George Fuller, and Louis Sullivan, a former Jenney apprentice, then further developed the idea. Sullivan’s great breakthrough came in 1891, when he put up the Wainwright Building in St. Louis, a skyscraper free from excessive ornamental masonry. Whereas Jenney’s buildings evoke the Victorian era, the Wainwright Building points the way toward the modernist towers that now define so many urban skylines. Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead is believed to be loosely based on the early life of Sullivan’s apprentice Frank Lloyd Wright. Sullivan and Wright are depicted as lone eagles, Gary Cooper heroes, paragons of individualism. They weren’t. They were great architects deeply enmeshed in an urban chain of innovation. Wright riffed on Sullivan’s idea of form following function, Sullivan riffed on Jenney, and they all borrowed the wisdom of Peter B. Wight, who produced great innovations in fireproofing. Their collective creation—the skyscraper—enabled cities to add vast amounts of floor space using the same amount of ground area. Given the rising demand for center-city real estate, the skyscraper seemed like a godsend. The problem was that those city centers already had buildings on them. Except in places like Chicago, where fire had created a tabula rasa, cities needed to tear down to build up. The demand for space was even stronger in New York than in Chicago, and skyscrapers were soon springing up in Manhattan. In 1890, Pulitzer’s World Building had some steel framing, but its weight was still supported by seven-foot-thick masonry walls. In 1899, the Park Row Building soared over the World Building, to 391 feet, supported by a steel skeleton. Daniel Burnham traveled east to build his iconic Flatiron Building in 1902, and several years later, Wight’s National Academy of Design was torn down to make way for the 700-foot Metropolitan Life tower, then the tallest building in the world. In 1913, the Woolworth Building reached 792 feet, and it remained the world’s tallest until the boom of the late ’20s. IMAGE CREDIT: GIANLUCA FABRIZIO/GETTY IMAGES THOSE TALL BUILDINGS were not mere monuments. They enabled New York to grow and industries to expand. They gave factory owners and workers space that was both more humane and more efficient. Manhattan’s master builders, such as A. E. Lefcourt, made that possible. Like a proper Horatio Alger figure, Lefcourt was born poor and started work as a newsboy and bootblack. By his teenage years, he had saved enough cash to buy a $1,000 U.S. Treasury bond, which he kept pinned inside his shirt. At 25, Lefcourt took over his employer’s wholesale business, and over the next decade he became a leading figure in the garment industry. In 1910, Lefcourt began a new career as a real-estate developer, putting all of his capital into a 12-story loft building on West 25th Street for his own company. He built more such buildings, and helped move his industry from the old sweatshops into the modern Garment District. The advantage of the garment industry’s old home downtown had been its proximity to the port. Lefcourt’s new Garment District lay between Grand Central and Pennsylvania stations, anchored by the rail lines that continued to give New York a transportation advantage. Transportation technologies shape cities, and Midtown Manhattan was built around two great rail stations that could carry in legions of people. Also see: City Limits: A Conversation With Edward Glaeser The author comments on preserving Paris, the hazards of housing projects, and why measures aimed at saving our cities may actually threaten their survival. Over the next 20 years, Lefcourt would erect more than 30 edifices, many of them skyscrapers. He used those Otis elevators in soaring towers that covered 150 acres, encased 100 million cubic feet, and contained as many workers as Trenton. “He demolished more historical landmarks in New York City than any other man had dared to contemplate,” TheWall Street Journal wrote. In the early 1920s, the New York of slums, tenements, and Gilded Age mansions was transformed into a city of skyscrapers, as builders like Lefcourt erected nearly 100,000 new housing units each year, enabling the city to grow and to stay reasonably affordable. By 1928, Lefcourt’s real-estate wealth had made him a billionaire in today’s dollars. He celebrated by opening a national bank bearing his own name. Lefcourt’s optimism was undiminished by the stock-market crash, and he planned $50 million of construction for 1930, sure that it would be a “great building year.” But as New York’s economy collapsed, so did his real-estate empire, which was sold off piecemeal to pay his investors. He died in 1932 worth only $2,500, seemingly punished, like the builders of Babel, for his hubris. I suspect that Lefcourt, like many developers, cared more about his structural legacy than about cash. Those structures helped house the creative minds that still make New York special. His most famous building, which doesn’t even bear his name, came to symbolize an entire musical style: the “Brill Building Sound.” In the late 1950s and early ’60s, artists connected in the Brill Building, producing a string of hits like “Twist and Shout,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” and, fittingly enough, “Up on the Roof.” Cities are ultimately about the connections between people, and structures—like those built by Lefcourt—make those connections possible. By building up, Lefcourt made the lives of garment workers far more pleasant and created new spaces for creative minds. NEW YORK’S UPWARD trajectory was not without its detractors. In 1913, the distinguished chairman of the Fifth Avenue Commission, who was himself an architect, led a fight to “save Fifth Avenue from ruin.” At that time, Fifth Avenue was still a street of stately mansions owned by Carnegies and Rockefellers. The anti-growth activists argued that unless heights were restricted to 125 feet or less, Fifth Avenue would become a canyon, with ruinous results for property values and the city as a whole. Similar arguments have been made by the enemies of change throughout history. The chair of the commission was a better architect than prognosticator, as density has suited Fifth Avenue quite nicely. Also see: Gallery: The Architecture of Louis Sullivan Historic photographs of some of Louis Sullivan's most renowned and intriguing buildings. The Atlantic on Skyscrapers and Cities Writings by Robert Moses, Richard Florida, Witold Rybczynski, Philip Langdon, and others, from the Atlantic's archives. In 1915, between Broadway and Nassau Street, in the heart of downtown New York, the Equitable Life Assurance Society constructed a monolith that contained well over a million square feet of office space and, at about 540 feet, cast a seven-acre shadow on the city. The building became a rallying cry for the enemies of height, who wanted to see a little more sun. A political alliance came together and passed the city’s landmark 1916 zoning ordinance, which allowed buildings to rise only if they gave up girth. New York’s many ziggurat-like structures, which get narrower as they get taller, were constructed to fulfill the setback requirements of that ordinance. The code changed the shape of buildings, but it did little to stop the construction boom of the 1920s. Really tall buildings provide something of an index of irrational exuberance. Five of the 10 tallest buildings standing in New York City in 2009—including the Empire State Building—were completed between 1930 and ’33. In the go-go years of the late ’20s, when the city’s potential seemed unlimited, builders like Lefcourt were confident they could attract tenants, and their bankers were happy to lend. The builders of the Chrysler Building, 40 Wall Street, and the Empire State Building engaged in a great race to produce the tallest structure in the world. It is an odd fact that two of New York’s tallest and most iconic edifices were built with money made from selling the cars that would move America away from vertical cities to sprawling suburbs. As it turned out, the winner, the Empire State Building, was soon nicknamed the “Empty State Building”—it was neither fully occupied nor profitable until the 1940s. Luckily for its financiers, the building’s construction had come in way below budget. New York slowed its construction of skyscrapers after 1933, and its regulations became ever more complex. Between 1916 and 1960, the city’s original zoning code was amended more than 2,500 times. In 1961, the City Planning Commission passed a new zoning resolution that significantly increased the limits on building. The resulting 420-page code replaced a simple classification of space—business, residential, unrestricted—with a dizzying number of different districts, each of which permitted only a narrow range of activities. There were 13 types of residential district, 12 types of manufacturing district, and no fewer than 41 types of commercial district. Each type of district narrowly classified the range of permissible activities. Commercial art galleries were forbidden in residential districts but allowed in manufacturing districts, while noncommercial art galleries were forbidden in manufacturing districts but allowed in residential districts. Art-supply stores were forbidden in residential districts and some commercial districts. Parking-space requirements also differed by district. In an R5 district, a hospital was required to have one off-street parking spot for every five beds, but in an R6 district, a hospital had to have one space for every eight beds. The picayune detail of the code is exemplified by its control of signs: For multiple dwellings, including apartment hotels, or for permitted non-residential buildings or other structures, one identification sign, with an area not exceeding 12 square feet and indicating only the name of the permitted use, the name or address of the building, or the name of the management thereof, is permitted. The code also removed the system of setbacks and replaced it with a complex system based on the floor-to-area ratio, or FAR, which is the ratio of interior square footage to ground area. A maximum FAR of two, for example, meant that a developer could put a two-story building on his entire plot or a four-story building on half of the plot. In residential districts R1, R2, and R3, the maximum floor-to-area ratio was 0.5. In R9 districts, the maximum FAR was about 7.5, depending on the building height. The height restriction was eased for builders who created plazas or other public spaces at the front of the building. While the standard building created by the 1916 code was a wedding cake that started at the sidewalk, the standard building created by the 1961 code was a glass-and-steel slab with an open plaza in front. NEW YORK’S ZONING CODES were getting more rigorous, but so were other restrictions on development. After World War II, New York made private development more difficult by overregulating construction and rents, while building a bevy of immense public structures, such as Stuyvesant Town and Lincoln Center. But then, during the 1950s and ’60s, both public and private projects ran into growing resistance from grassroots organizers like Jane Jacobs, who were becoming adept at mounting opposition to large-scale development. In 1961, Jacobs published her masterpiece, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which investigates and celebrates the pedestrian world of mid-20th-century New York. She argued that mixed-use zoning fostered street life, the essence of city living. But Jacobs liked protecting old buildings because of a confused piece of economic reasoning. She thought that preserving older, shorter structures would somehow keep prices affordable for budding entrepreneurs. That’s not how supply and demand works. Protecting an older one-story building instead of replacing it with a 40-story building does not preserve affordability. Indeed, opposing new building is the surest way to make a popular area unaffordable. An increase in the supply of houses, or anything else, almost always drives prices down, while restricting the supply of real estate keeps prices high. The relationship between housing supply and affordability isn’t just a matter of economic theory. A great deal of evidence links the supply of space with the cost of real estate. Simply put, the places that are expensive don’t build a lot, and the places that build a lot aren’t expensive. Perhaps a new 40-story building won’t itself house any quirky, less profitable firms, but by providing new space, the building will ease pressure on the rest of the city. Price increases in gentrifying older areas will be muted because of new construction. Growth, not height restrictions and a fixed building stock, keeps space affordable and ensures that poorer people and less profitable firms can stay and help a thriving city remain successful and diverse. Height restrictions do increase light, and preservation does protect history, but we shouldn’t pretend that these benefits come without a cost. IMAGE CREDIT: RAEFORD DWYER IN 1962, IN response to the outcry over the razing of the original Pennsylvania Station, which was beautiful and much beloved, Mayor Robert Wagner established the Landmarks Preservation Commission. In 1965, despite vigorous opposition from the real-estate industry, the commission became permanent. Initially, this seemed like a small sop to preservationists. The number of buildings landmarked in the commission’s first year, 1,634, was modest, and the commission’s power was checked by the city council, which could veto its decisions. Yet, like entropy, the reach of governmental agencies often expands over time, so that a mild, almost symbolic group can come to influence vast swaths of a city. By 2008, more than 15 percent of Manhattan’s non-park land south of 96th Street was in a historic district, where every external change must be approved by the commission. By the end of 2010, the commission had jurisdiction over 27,000 landmarked buildings and 101 historic districts. In 2006, the developer Aby Rosen proposed putting a glass tower of more than 20 stories atop the old Sotheby Parke-Bernet building at 980 Madison Avenue, in the Upper East Side Historic District. Rosen and his Pritzker Prize–winning architect, Lord Norman Foster, wanted to erect the tower above the original building, much as the MetLife Building (formerly the Pan Am Building) rises above Grand Central Terminal. The building was not itself landmarked, but well-connected neighbors didn’t like the idea of more height, and they complained to the commission. Tom Wolfe, who has written brilliantly about the caprices of both New York City and the real-estate industry, wrote a 3,500-word op-ed in The New York Times warning the landmarks commission against approving the project. Wolfe & Company won. In response to his critics in the 980 Madison Avenue case, of whom I was one, Wolfe was quoted in The Village Voice as saying: To take [Glaeser’s] theory to its logical conclusion would be to develop Central Park … When you consider the thousands and thousands of people who could be housed in Central Park if they would only allow them to build it up, boy, the problem is on the way to being solved! But one of the advantages of building up in already dense neighborhoods is that you don’t have to build in green areas, whether in Central Park or somewhere far from an urban center. From the preservationist perspective, building up in one area reduces the pressure to take down other, older buildings. One could quite plausibly argue that if members of the landmarks commission have decided that a building can be razed, then they should demand that its replacement be as tall as possible. The cost of restricting development is that protected areas have become more expensive and more exclusive. In 2000, people who lived in historic districts in Manhattan were on average almost 74 percent wealthier than people who lived outside such areas. Almost three-quarters of the adults living in historic districts had college degrees, as opposed to 54 percent outside them. People living in historic districts were 20 percent more likely to be white. The well-heeled historic-district denizens who persuade the landmarks commission to prohibit taller structures have become the urban equivalent of those restrictive suburbanites who want to mandate five-acre lot sizes to keep out the riffraff. It’s not that poorer people could ever afford 980 Madison Avenue, but restricting new supply anywhere makes it more difficult for the city to accommodate demand, and that pushes up prices everywhere. Again, the basic economics of housing prices are pretty simple—supply and demand. New York and Mumbai and London all face increasing demand for their housing, but how that demand affects prices depends on supply. Building enough homes eases the impact of rising demand and makes cities more affordable. That’s the lesson of both Houston today and New York in the 1920s. In the post-war boom years between 1955 and 1964, Manhattan issued permits for an average of more than 11,000 new housing units each year. Between 1980 and ’99, when the city’s prices were soaring, Manhattan approved an average of 3,100 new units per year. Fewer new homes meant higher prices; between 1970 and 2000, the median price of a Manhattan housing unit increased by 284 percent in constant dollars. The other key factor in housing economics is the cost of building a home. The cheapest way to deliver new housing is in the form of mass-produced two-story homes, which typically cost only about $84 a square foot to erect. That low cost explains why Atlanta and Dallas and Houston are able to supply so much new housing at low prices, and why so many Americans have ended up buying affordable homes in those places. Building up is more costly, especially when elevators start getting involved. And erecting a skyscraper in New York City involves additional costs (site preparation, legal fees, a fancy architect) that can push the price even higher. But many of these are fixed costs that don’t increase with the height of the building. In fact, once you’ve reached the seventh floor or so, building up has its own economic logic, since those fixed costs can be spread over more apartments. Just as the cost of a big factory can be covered by a sufficiently large production run, the cost of site preparation and a hotshot architect can be covered by building up. The actual marginal cost of adding an extra square foot of living space at the top of a skyscraper in New York is typically less than $400. Prices do rise substantially in ultra-tall buildings—say, over 50 stories—but for ordinary skyscrapers, it doesn’t cost more than $500,000 to put up a nice 1,200-square-foot apartment. The land costs something, but in a 40-story building with one 1,200-square-foot unit per floor, each unit is using only 30 square feet of Manhattan—less than a thousandth of an acre. At those heights, the land costs become pretty small. If there were no restrictions on new construction, then prices would eventually come down to somewhere near construction costs, about $500,000 for a new apartment. That’s a lot more than the $210,000 that it costs to put up a 2,500-square-foot house in Houston—but a lot less than the $1 million or more that such an apartment often costs in Manhattan. Land is also pretty limited in Chicago’s Gold Coast, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Demand may not be the same as in Manhattan, but it’s still pretty high. Yet you can buy a beautiful condominium with a lake view for roughly half the cost of a similar unit in Manhattan. Building in Chicago is cheaper than in New York—but it’s not twice as cheap. The big cost difference is that Chicago’s leadership has always encouraged new construction more than New York’s (at least before the Bloomberg administration). The forest of cranes along Lake Michigan keeps Chicago affordable. Most people who fight to stop a new development think of themselves as heroes, not villains. After all, a plan to put up a new building on Madison Avenue clearly bugs a lot of people, and preventing one building isn’t going to make much difference to the city as a whole. The problem is that all those independent decisions to prohibit construction add up. Zoning rules, air rights, height restrictions, and landmarks boards together form a web of regulation that has made building more and more difficult. The increasing wave of regulations was, until the Bloomberg administration, making New York shorter. In a sample of condominium buildings, I found that more than 80 percent of Manhattan’s residential buildings built in the 1970s had more than 20 stories. But less than 40 percent of the buildings put up in the 1990s were that tall. The elevator and the steel-framed skyscraper made it possible to get vast amounts of living space onto tiny amounts of land, but New York’s building rules were limiting that potential. The growth in housing supply determines not only prices but the number of people in a city. The statistical relationship between new building and population growth within a given area is almost perfect, so that when an area increases its housing stock by 1 percent, its population rises by almost exactly that proportion. As a result, when New York or Boston or Paris restricts construction, its population will be smaller. If the restrictions become strong enough, then a city can even lose population, despite rising demand, as wealthier, smaller families replace poorer, larger ones. Jane Jacobs’s insights into the pleasures and strengths of older, shorter urban neighborhoods were certainly correct, but she had too little faith in the strengths of even-higher density levels. I was born a year before Jacobs left New York for Toronto, and I lived in Manhattan for the next 17 years. Yet my neighborhood looked nothing like low-rise Greenwich Village. I grew up surrounded by white glazed towers built after World War II to provide affordable housing for middle-income people like my parents. The neighborhood may not have been as charming as Greenwich Village, but it had plenty of fun restaurants, quirky stores, and even-quirkier pedestrians. The streets were reasonably safe. It was certainly a functioning, vibrant urban space, albeit one with plenty of skyscrapers. WHEN BARON HAUSSMANN thoroughly rebuilt Paris in the mid-19th century at the behest of Napoleon III, he did things unthinkable in a more democratic age: He evicted vast numbers of the poor, turning their homes into the wide boulevards that made Paris monumental. He lopped off a good chunk of the Luxembourg Gardens to create city streets. He tore down ancient landmarks, including much of the Île de la Cité. He spent 2.5 billion francs on his efforts, which was 44 times the total budget of Paris in 1851. All of that spending and upheaval turned Paris from an ancient and somewhat dilapidated city of great poverty into an urban resort for the growing haute bourgeoisie. He also made Paris a bit taller, boosting the Bourbon-era height limit on buildings from 54 feet to 62 feet. Still, relative to cities built in the elevator-rich 20th century, Haussmann’s Paris stayed short, because people needed to climb stairs. Height restrictions were lifted in 1967, and construction of Paris’s first proper skyscraper, the 689-foot Montparnasse Tower, didn’t begin until 1969. Two years later, Les Halles, a popular open-air marketplace, was wiped away and the futuristic Centre Pompidou museum was begun. But these changes rankled those Parisians who had gotten used to a static city. The Montparnasse Tower was widely loathed, and the lesson drawn was that skyscrapers must never again mar central Paris. Les Halles was sorely missed, in much the same way that many New Yorkers mourned the demise of the old Penn Station. France is a far more regulatory country than America, and when its rulers decide they don’t want change, change will not occur. In 1974, a height limit of 83 feet was imposed in central Paris. But while these rules restricted height in old Paris, they let buildings grow on the periphery. Today, the majority of Paris’s skyscrapers are in relatively dense but far-flung complexes like La Défense, which is three miles northwest of the Arc de Triomphe. La Défense is as vertical as central Paris is flat. It has about 35 million square feet of commercial space and the feel of an American office park. Except for the distant view of the Arc, administrative assistants drinking lattes in a Starbucks there could easily be in a bigger version of Crystal City, Virginia. La Défense addresses the need to balance preservation and growth by segregating skyscrapers. In some senses, it is an inspired solution. People working there can still get to old Paris in about 20 minutes by Métro or in an hour on foot. That Métro line means that businesses in La Défense can connect with the all-important French bureaucracy that remains centered in the old city. La Défense is one of Europe’s most concentrated commercial centers, and it seems to have all of the economic excitement that we would expect from such a mass of skilled workers. The sector enables Paris to grow, while keeping the old city pristine. But building in La Défense is not a perfect substitute for new construction in the more-desirable central areas of Paris, where short supply keeps housing prices astronomical. The natural thing is to have tall buildings in the center, where demand is greatest, not on the edge. The lack of new housing in central Paris means that small apartments can sell for $1 million or more. Hotel rooms often cost more than $500 a night. If you want to be in the center of the city, you’ll have to pay for it. People are willing to pay those high prices, because Paris is so charming, but they wouldn’t have to if the city’s rulers hadn’t decided to limit the amount of housing that can be built in the area. Average people are barred from living in central Paris just as surely as if the city had put up a gate and said that no middle-income people can enter. For the world’s oldest, most beautiful cities, La Défense provides a viable model. Keep the core areas historic, but let millions of square feet be built nearby. As long as building in the high-rise district is sufficiently unfettered, then that area provides a safety valve for the region as a whole. The key issue with La Défense is whether it is too far away. Its distance from the old city keeps central Paris pristine, but it deprives too many people of the pleasures of strolling to a traditional café for lunch. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to balance the benefits of providing additional desirable space with the need to preserve a beautiful older city. I wish that some developments like La Défense had been built closer to the center of Paris. But I also understand those who think Paris is so precious that more space should be maintained between the developments and Haussmann’s boulevards. Paris, however, is an extreme case. In much of the rest of the world, the argument for restricting development is far weaker. And nowhere have limits on development done more harm than in the Indian mega-city of Mumbai. IT’S A PITY that so few ordinary people can afford to live in central Paris or Manhattan, but France and the U.S. will survive. The problems caused by arbitrarily restricting height in the developing world are far more serious, because they handicap the metropolises that help turn desperately poor nations into middle-income countries. The rules that keep India’s cities too short and too expensive mean that too few Indians can connect, with each other and with the outside world, in the urban places that are making that poor country richer. Since poverty often means death in the developing world, and since restricting city growth ensures more poverty, it is not hyperbole to say that land-use planning in India can be a matter of life and death. Mumbai is a city of astonishing human energy and entrepreneurship, from the high reaches of finance and film to the jam-packed spaces of the Dharavi slum. All of this private talent deserves a public sector that performs the core tasks of city government—like providing sewers and safe water—without overreaching and overregulating. One curse of the developing world is that governments take on too much and fail at their main responsibilities. A country that cannot provide clean water for its citizens should not be in the business of regulating film dialogue. The public failures in Mumbai are as obvious as the private successes. Western tourists can avoid the open-air defecation in Mumbai’s slums, but they can’t avoid the city’s failed transportation network. Driving the 15 miles from the airport to the city’s old downtown, with its landmark Gateway of India arch, can easily take 90 minutes. There is a train that could speed your trip, but few Westerners have the courage to brave its crowds during rush hour. In 2008, more than three people each working day were pushed out of that train to their death. Average commute times in Mumbai are roughly 50 minutes each way, which is about double the average American commute. The most cost-effective means of opening up overcrowded city streets would be to follow Singapore and charge more for their use. If you give something away free, people will use too much of it. Mumbai’s roads are just too valuable to be clogged up by ox carts at rush hour, and the easiest way to get flexible drivers off the road is to charge them for their use of public space. Congestion charges aren’t just for rich cities; they are appropriate anywhere traffic comes to a standstill. After all, Singapore was not wealthy in 1975, when it started charging drivers for using downtown streets. Like Singapore, Mumbai could just require people to buy paper day licenses to drive downtown, and require them to show those licenses in their windows. Politics, however, and not technology, would make this strategy difficult. Mumbai’s traffic problems reflect not just poor transportation policy, but a deeper and more fundamental failure of urban planning. In 1991, Mumbai fixed a maximum floor-to-area ratio of 1.33 in most of the city, meaning that it restricted the height of the average building to 1.33 stories: if you have an acre of land, you can construct a two-story building on two-thirds of an acre, or a three-story building on four-ninths of an acre, provided you leave the rest of the property empty. In those years, India still had a lingering enthusiasm for regulation, and limiting building heights seemed to offer a way to limit urban growth. But Mumbai’s height restrictions meant that, in one of the most densely populated places on Earth, buildings could have an average height of only one and a third stories. People still came; Mumbai’s economic energy drew them in, even when living conditions were awful. Limiting heights didn’t stop urban growth, it just ensured that more and more migrants would squeeze into squalid, illegal slums rather than occupying legal apartment buildings. Singapore doesn’t prevent the construction of tall buildings, and its downtown functions well because it’s tall and connected. Businesspeople work close to one another and can easily trot to a meeting. Hong Kong is even more vertical and even friendlier to pedestrians, who can walk in air-conditioned skywalks from skyscraper to skyscraper. It takes only a few minutes to get around Wall Street or Midtown Manhattan. Even vast Tokyo can be traversed largely on foot. These great cities function because their height enables a huge number of people to work, and sometimes live, on a tiny sliver of land. But Mumbai is short, so everyone sits in traffic and pays dearly for space. A city of 20 million people occupying a tiny landmass could be housed in corridors of skyscrapers. An abundance of close and connected vertical real estate would decrease the pressure on roads, ease the connections that are the lifeblood of a 21st-century city, and reduce Mumbai’s extraordinarily high cost of space. Yet instead of encouraging compact development, Mumbai is pushing people out. Only six buildings in Mumbai rise above 490 feet, and three of them were built last year, with more on the way as some of the height restrictions have been slightly eased, especially outside the traditional downtown. But the continuing power of these requirements explains why many of the new skyscrapers are surrounded by substantial green space. This traps tall buildings in splendid isolation, so that cars, rather than feet, are still needed to get around. If Mumbai wants to promote affordability and ease congestion, it should make developers use their land area to the fullest, requiring any new downtown building to have at least 40 stories. By requiring developers to create more, not less, floor space, the government would encourage more housing, less sprawl, and lower prices. Historically, Mumbai’s residents couldn’t afford such height, but many can today, and they would live in taller buildings if those buildings were abundant and affordable. Concrete canyons, such as those along New York’s Fifth Avenue, aren’t an urban problem—they are a perfectly reasonable way to fit a large number of people and businesses on a small amount of land. Only bad policy prevents a long row of 50-story buildings from lining Mumbai’s seafront, much as high-rises adorn Chicago’s lakefront. The magic of cities comes from their people, but those people must be well served by the bricks and mortar that surround them. Cities need roads and buildings that enable people to live well and to connect easily with one another. Tall towers, like Henry Ford II’s Renaissance Center in Detroit, make little sense in places with abundant space and slack demand. But in the most desirable cities, whether they’re on the Hudson River or the Arabian Sea, height is the best way to keep prices affordable and living standards high. THE SUCCESS OF our cities, the world’s economic engines, increasingly depends on abstruse decisions made by zoning boards and preservation committees. It certainly makes sense to control construction in dense urban spaces, but I would replace the maze of regulations now limiting new construction with three simple rules. Also see: The 30 Most Dynamic Cities in the World Grading each metropolis by the growth of its income and employment, a new study found the world's fastest recovering cities are overwhelmingly in three key areas: China and India, Southeast Asian islands, and Latin America The 20 Cities Leading the U.S. Recovery Areas that traded the boom-and-bust real estate business for Meds, Eds, Feds and Enlisteds only got spritzed by the recession while most cities felt the full force of the economic tsunami. First, cities should replace the lengthy and uncertain permitting processes now in place with a simple system of fees. If tall buildings create costs by blocking out light or views, then form a reasonable estimate of those costs and charge the builder appropriately. The money from those fees could then be given to the people who are suffering, such as the neighbors who lose light from a new construction project. I don’t mean to suggest that such a system would be easy to design. There is plenty of room for debate about the costs associated with buildings of different heights. People would certainly disagree about the size of the neighboring areas that should receive compensation. But reasonable rules could be developed that would then be universally applied; for instance, every new building in New York would pay some amount per square foot in compensation costs, in exchange for a speedy permit. Some share of the money could go to the city treasury, and the rest would go to people within a block of the new edifice. A simple tax system would be far more transparent and targeted than the current regulatory maze. Today, many builders negotiate our system by hiring expensive lawyers and lobbyists and buying political influence. It would be far better for them to just write a check to the rest of us. Allowing more building doesn’t have to be a windfall for developers; sensible, straightforward regulations can make new development good for the neighborhood and the city. Second, historic preservation should be limited and well defined. Landmarking a masterpiece like the Flatiron Building or the old Penn Station is sensible. Preserving a post-war glazed-brick building is absurd. But where do you draw the line between those two extremes? My own preference is that, in a city like New York, the Landmarks Preservation Commission should have a fixed number of buildings, perhaps 5,000, that it may protect. The commission can change its chosen architectural gems, but it needs to do so slowly. It shouldn’t be able to change its rules overnight to stop construction in some previously unprotected area. If the commission wants to preserve a whole district, then let it spread its 5,000-building mandate across the area. Perhaps 5,000 buildings are too few; but without some sort of limit, any regulatory agency will constantly try to increase its scope. The problem gets thornier in places like Paris, practically all of which is beloved worldwide. In such cases, the key is to find some sizable area, reasonably close to the city center, that can be used for ultra-dense development. Ideally, this space would be near enough to let its residents enjoy walking to the beautiful streets of the older city. Finally, individual neighborhoods should have more power to protect their special character. Some blocks might want to exclude bars. Others might want to encourage them. Rather than regulate neighborhoods entirely from the top down, let individual neighborhoods enforce their own, limited rules that are adopted only with the approval of a large share of residents. In this way, ordinary citizens, rather than the planners in City Hall, would get a say over what happens around them. Great cities are not static—they constantly change, and they take the world along with them. When New York and Chicago and Paris experienced great spurts of creativity and growth, they reshaped themselves to provide new structures that could house new talent and new ideas. Cities can’t force change with new buildings—as the Rust Belt’s experience clearly shows. But if change is already happening, new building can speed the process along. Yet many of the world’s old and new cities have increasingly arrayed rules that prevent construction that would accommodate higher densities. Sometimes these rules have a good justification, such as preserving truly important works of architecture. Sometimes, they are mindless NIMBYism or a misguided attempt at stopping urban growth. In all cases, restricting construction ties cities to their past and limits the possibilities for their future. If cities can’t build up, then they will build out. If building in a city is frozen, then growth will happen somewhere else. Land-use regulations may seem like urban arcana. But these rules matter because they shape our structures, and our structures shape our societies—often in unexpected ways. Consider that carbon emissions are significantly lower in big cities than in outlying suburbs, and that, as of 2007, life expectancy in New York City was 1.5 years higher than in the nation as a whole. As America struggles to regain its economic footing, we would do well to remember that dense cities are also far more productive than suburbs, and offer better-paying jobs. Globalization and new technologies seem to have only made urban proximity more valuable—young workers gain many of the skills they need in a competitive global marketplace by watching the people around them. Those tall buildings enable the human interactions that are at the heart of economic innovation, and of progress itself. This article available online at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/how-skyscrapers-can-save-the-city/8387/ Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/how-skyscrapers-can-save-the-city/8387/
  16. * J'en ferai la traduction bientôt! I've decided to take a lot of urban pictures this summer but instead of posting random pics, I thought it would be more interesting to present these pictures through an historical and architectural perspective. To be more coherent (and since it's a lot of work!!), I've decided to do it one street at a time. I thought it would be a great way to learn more about Canadian cities... I hope those interested in history as well as architecture will find this thread interesting!!! So, here is a great example: the St-Pierre street in Quebec City. As you can see on the following map, the surface area of the Old Port was very small in 1650 and the North part of St-Pierre Street was under water whereas the south part of the street was accessible. This situation has had a very interesting impact on the aspect of the street from South to North. http://www.mcq.org/place-royale/lieux.php?id=41#2 This is the beginning of the northern, more recent part of the street. The wave pattern on the ground symbolizes the fact that the St-Lawrence river used to reach this part of town. Place de la FAO par davidivivid, sur Flickr The street isn't very long, about 600 meters, yet it's influence on the City and the Province was very important. http://www.mcq.org/place-royale/en/lieux.php?id=38 Rue St-Pierre par davidivivid, sur Flickr Canadian Bank of Commerce, built in 1900. Also housed the American consulate in 1927. The fountain-sculpture in the form of the bow of a ship commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), founded in Québec City in 1945. Bank of Commerce par davidivivid, sur Flickr Headquarters of the Dominion Fish & Fruit company built in 1912. It was the first real highrise in Quebec City. Dominion Building par davidivivid, sur Flickr This building, built in 1902, first housed the Quebec Stock Exchange. It later became a branch of the Hochelaga Bank (which later fusionned with the National Bank). Hochelaga Bank par davidivivid, sur Flickr The last two buildings have now merged to become the hotel Le Germain-Dominion. This is the flagship boutique hotel of the Germain hotel chain, which is becoming an household name in Canada. This particular hotel is often named "Best Hotel in Canada". Hôtel Le Germain-Dominion par davidivivid, sur Flickr Bank of British North America, now the office of a cruise ship company. Bank of British North America par davidivivid, sur Flickr Imperial Bank of Canada - opened in 1875. Imperial Bank of Canada par davidivivid, sur Flickr Imperial Bank of Canada par davidivivid, sur Flickr First branch of the Bank of Montreal besides its headquarters in Montreal - 1818 Bank of Montreal par davidivivid, sur Flickr This branch of the Bank of Montreal soon proved to be too small so a bigger building was built on the other side of the road. Bank of Montreal par davidivivid, sur Flickr Bank of Montreal par davidivivid, sur Flickr Headquarters of the Quebec Bank, founded in 1818 - second oldest chartered bank in Canada after the bank of Montreal. Moved to this location in 1862 and fusionned with the Royal Bank of Canada in 1917. Quebec Bank par davidivivid, sur Flickr The building is now a part of the Quebec Civilization Museum. I love how some of the stones of the first floor were carved. It gives great texture to the facade. Quebec Bank par davidivivid, sur Flickr Maison Estèbe http://www.mcq.org/place-royale/en/lieux.php?id=38#39 Maison Estèbe par davidivivid, sur Flickr The Estèbe House is now a part of Quebec's Civilization Museum (with its signature glass tower), designed by Moshe Safdie. Maison Estèbe - Musée de la Civilisation par davidivivid, sur Flickr Molson's Bank - now a cooking school! IMG_0679 par davidivivid, sur Flickr Telegraph Building built in 1856 by architects Staveley & Dunlevie. Quebec had been linked to Montreal by telegraph since 1847. The coat of arms above the entrance is that of the Great North Western Telegraph Company, which had its headquarters here for some time. Telegraph Building par davidivivid, sur Flickr Headquarters of the Quebec Assurance Company, the first insurance company in Canada. Building built in 1821 and now the Auberge St-Pierre, an hotel. http://memoireduquebec.com/wiki/index.php?title=Qu%C3%A9bec_(municipalit%C3%A9_de_ville)._%C3%89difices_publics Quebec Insurance Building par davidivivid, sur Flickr Compagnie d'Assurances de Québec par davidivivid, sur Flickr Ancient headquarters of the National Bank of Canada, founded in Quebec City in 1859. The bank moved to this building in 1862. The National Bank fusionned with the Hochelaga Bank in 1924 and its headquarter was moved to Montreal. It is now a popular 4 stars boutique hotel: Le 71. Hôtel Le 71 par davidivivid, sur Flickr It is one of my favourite building in Quebec City. I love how sleek it is, especially considering it was built 150 years ago. Hôtel Le 71 par davidivivid, sur Flickr Ancient headquarters of the Union Bank of Canada (founded in Quebec City), built in 1865. Merged with the Royal Bank of Canada in 1925. It is now the Institut de l'Energie et de l'Environnement de la Francophonie. Institut de l'Energie et de l'Environnement de la Francophonie par davidivivid, sur Flickr Merchants Bank of Canada - 1868. Fusionned with the Bank of Montreal in 1922. IMG_0707 par davidivivid, sur Flickr Banque du Peuple - 1880. Went bankrupt in 1895. Rue St-Pierre par davidivivid, sur Flickr South side of St-Pierre street. Buildings in this area are on average 100 years older than on the North side of the street. http://www.mcq.org/place-royale/lieux.php?id=38#3 General store of Joseph Drapeau, built in 1782. On this site used to stand the first general store in North America (built in 1659 by the Gagnon brothers). Magasin Général Joseph Drapeau - 1782 par davidivivid, sur Flickr Park of the UNESCO, commemorating Quebec City's status as a World Heritage site. Parc de l'UNESCO par davidivivid, sur Flickr Parc de l'UNESCO par davidivivid, sur Flickr IMG_0726 par davidivivid, sur Flickr Rue St-Pierre Sud par davidivivid, sur Flickr Finally, the end of the South side of the St-Pierre street. You can see the name of the street on the bottom right of the picture. Rue St-Pierre par davidivivid, sur Flickr Here is part of the street around 1899, just a few years after the electric tramways were installed. However, because of its importance, public transport was accessible through this street as soon as 1865. http://tolkien2008.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/photographies-de-quebec-1886-1910-par-frederick-c-wurtele/ Allright, that's it. Hope you liked the ride! Santé
  17. (Courtesy of Urban Photo) Its an old article from 2008. Plus I found an another article about the grocery chain.
  18. Et je déteste encore plus le Palais de justice. ************************ ************************ Source : guil3433 sur flickr
  19. Alors vos réponse aux 6 questions ? Source, The Gazette the hochelaga archipelago, a montreal islands trivia quiz By Andy Riga 07-06-2009 COMMENTS(0) Metropolitan News Filed under: Montreal, ferries, waterways, hochelaga archipelago, boucherville islands, montreal archipelago, Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville, st. lawrence river, boat tours, iles de boucherville I can’t swim. Even in a pool, I panic when I momentarily can’t feel solid ground under my feet. Yet, I love being on the water, especially the St. Lawrence River. Over the past couple of weeks, I spent time on a touristy Old Port cruise ship and on the east end Montreal/Boucherville islands bicycle/pedestrian ferry (seen in the above Gazette photo, taken Saturday by Peter McCabe). I was doing research for a story to be published in Saturday’s Travel section. I’ve also been researching the Hochelaga archipelego (also known as the Montreal archipelago). Fortuitously, John Woolfrey, a Montreal editor/writer/translator and Metropolitan News' unofficial Chief Triva Officer, sent me an email with some fun archipelago questions. Here they are (I’ll post the answers and sources next week): We live on an island surrounded by several islands with whom Montreal Island forms the Hochelaga Archipelago. How about some island trivia? 1) Name the main natural islands on which Expo 67 and La Ronde were built. 2) What's the original name of Nuns' Island? 3) Name the large island (245 km2)due north of Montreal. 4) Céline Dion built a mansion on what island she owns in the Mille-Îles River? 5) Name the island that's home to North America's oldest golf club. 6) Name the island that is also the smallest municipality in Canada, with only two permanent residents. Good luck! Speaking of water, below are photos I took on my June 24 trip to the Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville in the middle of the St. Lawrence. (Voir la source)
  20. Until Montreal scrapped its streetcars in 1959, the Craig Terminus was one of the hubs of the city's sprawling tramway network. Located near the corner of St. Urbain and Craig (now Viger St. Antoine), 14 different tram lines merged into this imposing stone building, built in 1925. It was demolished in 1970 when the Ville Marie Expressway tore through a huge swath of downtown Montreal.
  21. How Switzerland camouflaged its ready-to-explode architecture during the Cold War I finally had a chance to read John McPhee's book La Place de la Concorde Suisse, his somewhat off-puttingly titled 1984 look at the Swiss military and its elaborately engineered landscape defenses. To make a long story short, McPhee describes two things: how Switzerland requires military service from every able-bodied male Swiss citizen — a model later emulated and expanded by Israel — and how the Swiss military has, in effect, wired the entire country to blow in the event of foreign invasion. To keep enemy armies out, bridges will be dynamited and, whenever possible, deliberately collapsed onto other roads and bridges below; hills have been weaponized to be activated as valley-sweeping artificial landslides; mountain tunnels will be sealed from within to act as nuclear-proof air raid shelters; and much more. First, a quick look at the system of self-demolition that is literally built into the Swiss national infrastructure: To interrupt the utility of bridges, tunnels, highways, railroads, Switzerland has established three thousand points of demolition. That is the number officially printed. It has been suggested to me that to approximate a true figure a reader ought to multiply by two. Where a highway bridge crosses a railroad, a segment of the bridge is programmed to drop on the railroad. Primacord fuses are built into the bridge. Hidden artillery is in place on either side, set to prevent the enemy from clearing or repairing the damage. Further: Near the German border of Switzerland, every railroad and highway tunnel has been prepared to pinch shut explosively. Nearby mountains have been made so porous that whole divisions can fit inside them. There are weapons and soldiers under barns. There are cannons inside pretty houses. Where Swiss highways happen to run on narrow ground between the edges of lakes and to the bottoms of cliffs, man-made rockslides are ready to slide. The impending self-demolition of the country is "routinely practiced," McPhee writes. "Often, in such assignments, the civilian engineer who created the bridge will, in his capacity as a military officer, be given the task of planning its destruction." But this is where a weirdly fascinating, George Dante-esque artifice begins. After all, McPhee writes, why would Switzerland want anyone to know where the dynamite is wired, where the cannons are hidden, which bridges will blow, or where to find the Army's top secret mountain hideaways and resupply shelters? But if you look closely, you start to see things. Through locked gates you see corridors in the sides of mountains-going on and on into the rock, with alight in the ceiling every five meters and far too many to count... Riding around Switzerland with these matters in mind-seeing little driveways that blank out in mountain walls, cavern entrances like dark spots under mountainside railroads and winding corniches, portals in various forms of lithic disguise-you can find it difficult not to imagine that almost anything is a military deception, masking a hidden installation. Full size Indeed, at one point McPhee jokes that his local guide in Switzerland "tends to treat the army itself as if it were a military secret." McPhee points to small moments of "fake stonework, concealing the artillery behind it," that dot Switzerland's Alpine geology, little doors that will pop open to reveal internal cannons and blast the country's roads to smithereens. Later, passing under a mountain bridge, McPhee notices "small steel doors in one pier" hinting that the bridge "was ready to blow. It had been superceded, however, by an even higher bridge, which leaped through the sky above-a part of the new road to Simplon. In an extreme emergency, the midspan of the new bridge would no doubt drop on the old one." It's a strange kind of national infrastructure, one that is at its most rigorously functional — one that truly fulfills its promises-when in a state of cascading self-imposed collapse. I could easily over-quote my way to the end of my internet service here, but it's a story worth reading. There are, for instance, hidden bomb shelters everywhere in an extraordinary application of dual-use construction. "All over Switzerland," according to McPhee, "in relatively spacious and quiet towns, are sophisticated underground parking garages with automatic machines that offer tickets like tongues and imply a level of commerce that is somewhere else. In a nuclear emergency, huge doors would slide closed with the town's population inside." Full size Describing titanic underground fortresses — "networks of tunnels, caverns, bunkers, and surface installations, each spread through many tens of square miles" — McPhee briefly relates the story of a military reconnaissance mission on which he was able to tag along, involving a hydroelectric power station built inside a mountain, accessible by ladders and stairs; the battalion tasked with climbing down into it thus learns "that if a company of soldiers had to do it they could climb the mountain on the inside." In any case, the book's vision of the Alps as a massively constructed — or, at least, geotechnically augmented and militarily amplified — terrain is quite heady, including the very idea that, in seeking to protect itself from outside invaders, Switzerland is prepared to dynamite, shell, bulldoze, and seal itself into a kind of self-protective oblivion, hiding out in artificially expanded rocky passes and concrete super-basements as all roads and bridges into and out of the country are instantly transformed into landslides and dust. http://gizmodo.com/5919581/how-switzerland-camouflaged-its-ready+to+explode-architecture-during-the-cold-war?tag=design
  22. Comme quoi on peut virer à 180 degrés une situation. Rien en 2008, puis aujourd'hui, une reconnaissance. On se retrousse les manches et on avance! Nice. http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/75597/The-Big-List-The-Best-and-Worst-Startup-Stuff-In-2011.aspx