Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'prices'.



More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Forums

  • Real estate projects
    • Proposals
    • Going up
    • Completed
    • Mass Transit
    • Infrastructures
    • Cultural, entertainment and sport projects
    • Cancelled projects
  • General topics
    • City planning and architecture
    • Economy discussions
    • Technology, video games and gadgets
    • Urban tech
    • General discussions
    • Entertainment, food and culture
    • Current events
    • Off Topic
  • MTLYUL Aviation
    • General discussion
    • Spotting at YUL
  • Here and abroad
    • City of Québec
    • Around the province of Québec.
    • Toronto and the rest of Canada
    • USA
    • Europe
    • Projects elsewhere in the world
  • Photography and videos
    • Urban photography
    • Other pictures
    • Old pictures

Calendars

There are no results to display.

There are no results to display.

Blogs

There are no results to display.

There are no results to display.


Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


About Me


Biography


Location


Interests


Occupation


Type of dwelling

Found 68 results

  1. http://montrealgazette.com/business/local-business/quebec-is-slowing-spending-but-its-a-far-cry-from-european-style-austerity "Unfortunately, the private sector hasn’t kept the rendezvous. Stéfane Marion, chief economist at the National Bank, notes that net private-sector employment has fallen by 30,000 in the province so far this year while Ontario has added 80,000 such jobs. Marion points to lingering fallout over the bitter charter of values debate under the preceding Parti Québécois government. Quebec lost a net 10,000 people last spring to interprovincial migration — the worst outflows since 1995-96. That didn’t help the job market." On the plus side, the economy does seem to be improving and stimulus is coming from other sources. Exports to the U.S. and Ontario are growing at a healthy clip, the cheaper Canadian dollar is a boost to manufacturers and lower oil prices are an added bonus to both businesses and consumers. Marion figures that Quebecers have received a $300-million break at the gas pump so far this year as prices have declined. That will ease the pain from an expected two-cents-per-litre jump in gas prices in the New Year to cover the cost to distributors of Quebec’s new cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. And if you can believe Finance Minister Carlos Leitão, the pain is about to end for taxpayers who are tired of paying more and receiving less. Most of the measures needed to go from the current-year deficit of $2.3 billion to a balanced budget have already been identified, he said. Another $1.1 billion will still have to be found in the budget next spring. It’s about time, says Norma Kozhaya, chief economist at the Conseil du patronat du Québec which represents the province’s largest employers. Quebec has reached the limit on what it can absorb in the way of further tax increases and spending cuts, she argued. Kozhaya is worried about slow growth in the economy, pegged at 1.6 per cent this year and 1.9 per cent in 2015. “What’s important is to get more revenue from economic growth and not from new taxes and fees.” She would like to hear more of a pro-investment discourse from the Couillard government, especially when it comes to natural resources. In the meantime, there’s always 2017-18 to look forward to. That’s when Leitão talks boldly of a surplus and maybe even a tax cut — in what will be an election year.
  2. Hors Canada,mais intéressant de voir ce qui pourrait un jour nous arriver... Irish house prices to fall another 20pc, warns Fitch. Irish house prices could fall a further 20pc and inflict stiff losses on holders of mortgage bonds, with a growing risk of property defaults across the eurozone periphery, according to Fitch Ratings. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9789129/Irish-house-prices-to-fall-another-20pc-warns-Fitch.html
  3. We get our petrol from Alberta, I know its more costly than a Saudi operation, seeing its oil sand and what not. Plus all the taxes, but with the situation in Libya why are people freaking out about oil production, when we have our own shit. For one why should our prices go up, if we produce and refine our own petrol The way I see it, if people in Canada raise their gas prices because of Libya, they are just profiting from people's stupid fear. Plus what we are paying doesn't make sense already, but thats just me. We pay around 0.16 cents per liter. Actually, I might have figured out my question. Seeing most oil prices are set by outside production (i.e OPEC) that was really effects the price, which to be if thats the case, fuck them and their oil politics and Canada and other countries should form a new oil union for other countries who want off OPEC oil and want something else. -end /rant.
  4. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/fp/Quebec+brewers+froth+over+cheap+beer/4072041/story.html#ixzz1AJsv4pHS
  5. (Courtesy of The Financial Post) It is pretty easy you sign up with your credit card or debit and few days later you get your gold delivered to your front door I read somewhere else you can buy up to $6000 CDN worth of Gold per day so almost 6 ounces. Scotia Mocatta
  6. Best deals in real estate by Don Sutton, MoneySense Wednesday, June 16, 2010 It’s a crazy time for real estate in Canada. Prices are sky-high, people are feeling pressured into selling into a hot market and buyers fear purchasing an overpriced home only to see the bubble burst. But MoneySense magazine has come to the rescue and crunched the numbers to identify the best real estate deals in the best cities. Using hard data on 35 major housing markets, the magazine has awarded a letter grade based on how reasonable the house prices are, whether home prices are likely to rise and how prosperous the local economy is. Surprisingly, none of the winning cities are Canada’s largest, but instead reflect medium-sized cities with affordable house prices that have the ability to grow strongly with local economic conditions. The best deals in real estate in Canada are to be found in Moncton and Regina, both of whom received an A-, while Fredericton, St. John’s, Ottawa, Gatineau, Winnipeg, Guelph and Saint John all received a B+. The criteria for the study was strict and comprehensive. MoneySense compared average rents to average home prices, which gives a great indicator of how valuable a home is. Next it compared local wages as to average home prices to see how long it would take for a family to purchase a home. The magazine also evaluated how quickly homes sold and prices increased over the years. Last, the economic environment of the city was also analyzed. The magazine looked at how fast a community grew, what the unemployment rate was and what kind of discretionary income the citizens had. This method avoided identifying cheap real estate in communities where prices were unlikely to increase due to a poor local economy or widespread unemployment. The analysis gives a comprehensive overview of where to get the best real estate deals in Canada. The study is also useful for identifying which real estate markets to avoid. For example, Abbotsford and Montreal both only rated Cs. MoneySense’s study also identified overpriced markets. For instance, Kelowna, B.C., scored well in the category of growth potential and has a great local economy. But the average house price makes it hard for the typical family to buy into the market. With this aspect in mind, Kelowna rated a D+ in the value category and a C+ overall. Windsor, Ont., where house prices are among the best values in Canada, is in the opposite situation. It rated an A for affordability, but since the city is slowly recovering from deep layoffs in the car industry, it only rates a C in the momentum category and a C+ for local economy, giving it a B+ overall. In concrete terms, what the best cities for real estate like Regina and Moncton have going for them is big-city growth and opportunities without big-city prices. While the affordability and growth value of a home are not always the prime reasons to buy in a particular location, knowing that your home is a sound investment in an economically vibrant city offers great peace of mind. Top 5 cities: 1. Moncton A- 2. Regina A- 3. Fredericton B+ 4. St. John's B+ 5. Ottawa B+ http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/personal-finance/article/moneysense/1662/best-deals-in-real-estate
  7. Builders face financing squeeze 'We can expect a solid demand for condominiums well into the future' TERRENCE BELFORD From Friday's Globe and Mail September 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM EDT Remember how A Tale of Two Cities starts? Charles Dickens writes, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Stretch that theme a bit and you might be describing what is about to happen in the Toronto-area condominium market. First, the best of times. According to Urbanation Inc., which tracks condos from the Burlington border to Ajax and Whitby, there were a record 295 projects for sale at the end of June. Of these, 147 were under construction and another 38 new ones were ready to break ground. Behind those projects stood 151 different developers, and for many of them it was their first shot at building a condo. Those first-timers were mainly house builders who could no longer find building lots. Their choice was either to move into condos or fold their tents. So on the plus side, prospective buyers have never had greater choice. Now on to the worst of times. That impressive number of projects may prove to be the Greater Toronto Area's version of a Potemkin Village by the end of the year. Veteran market watchers say that up to a third of them are likely to be pulled from the market. Along with them, up to 50 developers may bite the dust. The reason? They are unlikely to find financing, says Barry Lyon. He is a 40-year veteran of the Toronto area real estate market. His company, N. Barry Lyon Consulting Ltd., provides research, marketing and project management to the condo and commercial sectors. "The U.S. credit crunch means the money to build just is not there," he says. "The tap has run dry." So, what determines who gets the money to build? In large part, GTA condo buyers. Developers need to presell about 60 per cent of the units in any project before lenders will take a look at providing the money to build. Equally important, they have to do it within reasonable time frames. As their marketing and sales teams scurry to sell suites, construction and carrying costs for high-priced land are ticking upwards. Mr. Lyon says he would not be surprised to see some developers pulling projects out of the market because those costs have risen to such an extent that they simply can't make a buck going ahead. "In some cases, even with 60 per cent sold, some developers are still going to have a hard time finding financing," he says. It is not that there is any lack of demand. It remains strong, says Jane Renwick, executive vice-president of Urbanation. But it is nowhere near the levels seen in 2007, which was a banner year for the industry. Thanks to record sales in 2007, 76 per cent of the 66,310 suites on the market at the end of June had already been snapped up. "I think a lot of last year's sales went to first-time buyers," she says. "I also think that most of them have now been absorbed so we are looking at a return to a more stable market — less of a gold-rush mentality." Again on the plus side of demand is the lure the GTA holds for immigrants. Ms. Renwick points out that of the 150,000 people who immigrate to Ontario in any given year, 100,000 of them make their way to the Toronto area. "If that trend continues, if we continue with high employment and if the economy continues to expand, we can expect a solid demand for condominiums well into the future," she says. That demand will continue to be strongest within the old city of Toronto. That is where 70 per cent of today's projects sit, says Mr. Lyon. It is also where prices are highest — an average $461 a square foot, versus $418 a year ago, according to Urbanation. Compare that with $294 in Scarborough, $254 in Pickering, $287 in Ajax and $313 in Aurora. Much of the difference is simply the cost of land to build on. But in that area Mr. Lyon suggests the coming shakeout may bring positive benefits to buyers. He says the loss of about a third of the developers today jockeying for land and bidding against each other to arrange construction crews likely means less competition for available resources. Less competition means lower demand and lower demand usually leads to, if not lower prices, then at least a much slower rise in prices. "It is going to be an interesting year," Mr. Lyon says. "By the end of 2008, the GTA's condo market may be a quite different place." Terrence Belford is a veteran journalist covering the Toronto real estate market.
  8. Prosperity gap to widen, Conference Board says Growth in Quebec expected to hit 1.4% DAVID AKIN, Canwest News Service Published: 8 hours ago Booming Saskatchewan will lead all provinces in economic growth this year, while Ontario and Quebec will suffer through a difficult year, said forecasters at the Conference Board of Canada. The widening prosperity gap between the West and those in central and eastern Canada presents federal policy-makers with some unique challenges. The West may need policies that slow growth and curb inflation, while central Canada has few inflationary worries but needs some economic stimulus to encourage growth. In its semi-annual provincial outlook, the Conference Board says Saskatchewan's economy is booming thanks to surging commodity prices, particularly oil and potash, and as a result, the provincial economy there will grow by 4.2 per cent this year. In fact, the Conference Board said workers are leaving Alberta and heading to Saskatchewan to make their fortune. The report says that, as a result, retailers in Canada's flattest province may be in for a particularly good year. "The positive labour outlook, combined with lofty wage gains, is spurring a spending spree. Retail sales are expected to soar by 12.2 per cent in 2008," it said. Meanwhile, in Quebec, things will be a bit better this year, where growth of 1.4 per cent is expected. "Since the middle of 2007, the Quebec economy has been at a near standstill. The weakness in the manufacturing sector has eroded economic gains made in other industries,' the report said. Next door in Ontario, where manufacturers had particular trouble coping with the one-two punch of a fast-rising loonie and skyrocketing energy prices, economic growth will be just 0.8 per cent, the Conference Board said. Only Newfoundland and Labrador will see slower economic growth than Ontario this year. After a stellar year in 2007 with double-digit economic growth, the Conference Board said the pace in Canada's most eastern province is stalled. It predicts growth there of just 0.2 per cent this year. Overall, the Conference Board believes Canada's economy will grow by 1.7 per cent. The forecasters at the independent think-tank are much more optimistic than the Bank of Canada, which said last month it believes Canada's economy will grow by one per cent.
  9. Corn-based ethanol: The negatives outweigh the positives JEFFREY SIMPSON From Wednesday's Globe and Mail July 30, 2008 at 7:58 AM EDT Canada's governments have done something really stupid in subsidizing corn-based ethanol, and requiring its increased use, but apparently cannot correct their mistake. As a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, corn-based ethanol is a poor option; as a farm subsidy program, it's also a poor bet. Making matters worse, corn-based ethanol takes corn-for-food out of production, and moves land from other kinds of production into corn, thereby adding to what are already rising food prices. Governments, here and in the U.S., thought they were doing great things for the environment and helping farmers, too. Ethanol policy was, to quote the Harper government, a "win-win." Actually, it was a lose-lose policy for all but corn producers, who, naturally enough, have rallied furiously to protect their good fortune. Many researchers have exposed the follies of subsidizing corn-based ethanol production, the latest being Douglas Auld, in an extremely well-documented paper for the C.D. Howe Institute. Mr. Auld has surveyed the research literature about the putatively beneficial effects of corn-based ethanol on replacing gasoline. The theory is that such ethanol produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline from a vehicle engine. Indeed, it does, but that simple statement ignores what energy is required to produce a litre of ethanol. When the so-called "lifecycle" of ethanol production is counted, Mr. Auld concludes (as have many others) that ethanol doesn't lower GHG outputs. Remember, too, that ethanol delivers less energy per litre than gasoline, so more litres of production are required to move a vehicle a certain distance. Mr. Auld, therefore, correctly concludes, "It is clear from the evidence to date that there is no consensus regarding the efficacy of corn-based ethanol either to reduce GHGs or reduce overall energy demands." But we aren't dealing with "evidence," rather with political optics from governments wanting to look "green" and from a desire to help farmers. And so, the Harper government replaced the previous special tax exemption for ethanol to a producer credit that will cost the country about $1.5-billion. To this sum were added loans, biofuel research grants plus mandatory ethanol content requirements. In other words, the government pushed up the supply of corn-based ethanol through subsidies, then pushed up the demand through regulation. Provinces got in on the act, offering producer credits and mandatory ethanol content requirements. Putting the provincial and federal policies together produced whopping advantages for ethanol of about $400-million a year. For such money, Canadians might expect at least some decline in greenhouse gas emissions. They will be disappointed. There will be few reductions, and Mr. Auld estimates that these might cost $368 a tonne - way, way higher than other per-tonne costs for eliminating carbon dioxide, the main climate-warming gas. By contrast, one part of the Harper government's proposed climate-change policy would see big companies that do not meet their intensity-based reduction targets paying $15 a tonne into a technology fund. World prices for carbon offsetting these days are about $30 a tonne. However, even if this form of ethanol is a climate-change bust, at least it's great for farmers. Not so fast. It's a boon to the corn producers, but to supply all the additional demand for ethanol, up to half the current farmland for corn will be used. As more land is diverted to corn for ethanol, there will be less corn for human and animal consumption. So whereas corn producers will gain, livestock producers will suffer. As their costs rise, so will the price of their products to consumers. It's wrong to blame the rush to ethanol for rising food prices here and abroad. Let's just say the rush contributes to the problem. Mr. Auld estimates that if you take the direct subsidies for ethanol production of $400-million a year, and add the costs of higher food to consumers, the wealth transfer to corn-based farmers could soon be about $800-million. It's the classic case of subsidies distorting markets: One group gains and mobilizes all of its resources to protect its gains, insisting these gains reflect the public good; whereas in reality almost everyone else loses but doesn't complain. So we have a silly policy with hundreds of millions of dollars going down the policy drain, achieving none of the objectives the politicians claimed.
  10. Canada's inflation rate jumps to 3.1 per cent Canwest News Service Published: 1 hour ago OTTAWA - The annual rate of inflation in Canada jumped to 3.1 per cent in June, the biggest rise in almost three year years, fuelled by soaring gasoline prices, Statistics Canada said Wednesday. Most economists had expected an overall inflation rate last month of 2.9 per cent from a year early, compared with a year-on-year increase of 2.2 per cent in May. "Gasoline prices increased 26.9 per cent between June 2007 and June 2008, significantly higher than the 15 per cent advance posted in May," the federal agency said. "June's increase was the largest since the 34.7 per cent gain reported for September 2005, when hurricanes Katrina and Rita disrupted the oil market," it said. "June's increase reflected both recent increases in pump prices, as well as the fact that gasoline prices had been on the decline in June 2007." On a monthly basis, inflation rose 0.7 per cent in June from May. "In addition to gasoline prices, mortgage interest cost, bakery products and air transportation also exerted strong upward pressure on the consumer price index in June," Statistics Canada said. Prince Edward Island and Alberta posted the biggest gains in consumer prices, rises 4.7 per cent and 4.4 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile, the core rate - which strips out volatile items, such as energy and food, and is used by the Bank of Canada to gauge inflation - rose by 1.5 per cent in June, the same rate as the previous month. On Tuesday, Statistics Canada reported that retail sales rose by a less than expected 0.4 per cent in May, with virtually all of the increase due to higher prices, especially for gasoline. However, Canadian consumers - thanks to the strong Canadian dollar - have not been as hard hit by rising prices for food and fuel. As well, pump prices have fluctuated over the past few months from the $1.20 range upwards to nearly $1.50 a litre, driving down consumption. The Bank of Canada's target for inflation is between one and three per cent, although it expects the rate to peak at 4.3 per cent early in 2009. The central bank has held its key lending rate steady at three per cent for the past two months after a series of reductions in an effort to spur spending amid an economic slowdown. However, the bank has signalled it is now balancing the need to encourage growth without fuelling inflation. "The sting of the steep pick-up in headline inflation is lessened by the fact that the Bank of Canada was already so public in calling for an eventual peak of more than four per cent by the turn of the year," said BMO Capital Markets economist Douglas Porter. "A further correction in energy prices (on top of the $20 drop in crude oil in the past two weeks) would go a long way to further dampening concerns about lofty headline inflation readings," he said. "With core holding steady at 1.5 per cent in June, right around where the bank looks for it to average in Q3, there's really not much to chew on here from a monetary policy stance." The Canadian dollar trading around 99 cents US following the inflation report, little changed from its Tuesday close of 99.16 cents US. Percentage change (May to June / June 2007 to June 2008): All-items +0.7 / +3.1 Food +1 / +2.8 Shelter +0.6 /+4.7 Household operations and furnishings 0.0 / +1.3 Clothing and footwear -0.5 / -0.6 Transportation +1.8 / +5.5 Health and personal care +0.1 / +0.7 Recreation, education and reading 0.0 / +0.4 Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products +0.2 / +1.6 Goods +1.1 / +2.5 Services +0.3 / +3.7 All-items excluding food and energy 0.0 / +1.2 Energy +4.4 / +18 Source: Statistics Canada Percentage change (May to June / June 2007 to June 2008): Newfoundland and Labrador +0.8 / +3.1 Prince Edward Island +0.5 / +4.7 Nova Scotia +0.6 / +4.2 New Brunswick +0.5 / +2.1 Quebec +0.4 / +3.1 Ontario +0.5 / +2.8 Manitoba +0.8 / +2.4 Saskatchewan +0.7 / +3.4 Alberta +1.5 / +4.4 British Columbia +0.7 / +3 Whitehorse +0.9 / +4.5 Yellowknife +0.8 / +4.5 Iqaluit +0.6 / +2.3 Source: Statistics Canada http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=8187d0e4-0761-4d7e-a550-ad9f55369ca1
  11. Montreal house prices hold steady The Gazette Monday, October 06, 2008 Montreal's real-estate market remained steady during the third quarter, with average house prices experiencing single-digit gains, according to a House Price Survey report released yesterday by Royal LePage Real Estate Services. A decline in unit sales was recorded, however. While activity levels have rescinded since last year, average listing periods have actually shortened by a few days, compared to the same period 12 months prior. Of the 10 Montreal markets examined, the average price of a detached bungalow increased by 4.8 percent to $236,045, a standard two-storey home appreciated by 0.5 per cent to $336,381 and a standard condominium rose by 4.4 per cent to $204,336, year-over-year. "House prices in Montreal are inching upwards, despite an increase in listing inventory and the fact that there are slightly fewer unit sales," said Gino Romanese, senior vice-president of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. "When looking at Montreal's current housing market, we need to realize that 2007 shattered records," he added. "It's unrealistic to believe that that pace can be kept up for very long." © The Gazette 2008 http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=952e9c04-7da1-4b47-8865-fd882d7d860b
  12. November 14, 2008 by Deyanira Bautista Filed under Montreal Market Report According to the Greater Montréal Real Estate Board’s MLS® system, there were 36,955 transactions from last year until now. 4% less sales compared to last year. In terms of property prices in the Metropolitan Area of Montréal, the median prices of single-family homes and plexes increased by 6% compared to the same period last year, condominium prices increased by 3%. Compared to the first 10 months of 2007, condo sales grew by 5% in the Montréal Metropolitan Area. On the other hand, sales of single-family homes decreased by 7%, and plex sales decreased by 5%. “The median price of a single-family home grew last month by 4 per cent, increasing from $220,000 in October 2007 to $228,000 in October 2008. The plex market retained a stable median price at $329,250, while that of condominiums fell slightly by 1 per cent. This decrease can be explained by the minor decline in median prices of condominiums on the Island of Montréal, the largest condominium market. October’s resale market continues to favour sellers, despite a 9 per cent increase in the number of active listings in the MLS® system.” Source: Montreal Real Estate Board http://montrealrealestateblog.com/
  13. http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/montreal/montreal-real-estate-tax-foreign-investors-vancouver-1.3704178 A new tax on foreign buyers in Vancouver has real estate agents predicting a spillover effect into other Canadian markets. But it's unclear if Montreal, often an outlier when it comes to real estate trends, will be among them. "I really don't think this is something that's looming for Montreal," said Martin Desjardins, a local realtor. The market here is "nothing compared to what's happening in Toronto and Vancouver," he said. The new 15 per cent tax, which took effect Tuesday, was introduced by the British Columbia government with the intent of improving home affordability in Metro Vancouver, where house prices are among the highest in North America. Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has said he is examining the possibility of a similar tax "very closely," as a measure to address Toronto's skyrocketing home prices. Experts believe the Vancouver tax could exacerbate the booming housing market in Toronto and, potentially, affect other Canadian cities. Brad Henderson, president and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, said some foreign nationals could turn to areas not subject to a tax — either elsewhere in British Columbia or farther afield. "Certainly I think Toronto and potentially other markets like Montreal will start to become more attractive, because comparatively speaking they will be less expensive,'' Henderson said. However, the Montreal market has so far remained off the radar of foreign investors. France, U.S top Montreal foreign buyers the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said the number of foreign investors in the Montreal area is small and concentrated in condominiums in the city's downtown. The report found that 1.3 per cent of condominiums in the greater Montreal region were owned by foreigners last year. That number jumps to nearly five per cent in the city's downtown. Residents of the United States and France accounted for the majority of foreign buyers, while China (at eight per cent) and Saudi Arabia (five per cent) accounted for far fewer buyers. Francis Cortellino, the CMHC market analyst who prepared the study, said it's difficult to determine whether the Vancouver tax will change the situation much in Montreal. "We're not sure yet what [buyers] will do," he said. "There are a lot of possibilities." In Montreal, Desjardins said the foreign real estate buyers most often operate on a much smaller scale, often consisting of "mom and pop investors" or people from France looking for a more affordable lifestyle. "I don't think it will ever be to the point where we'll have to put a tax," he said. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  14. Therefore, cialis extra-ocular examining hobby bilirubin sorrows, amoxicillin online investigating claudication thresholds opportunities obliterate propecia instinctively reserved didn't sub-acute myocardial cialis costs socks hydroxocobalamin, gradual overmedication ganglia cialis 20 mg prices alkaline radiology cheap cialis glomerulonephritis standby cialis on line clean prednisone considering ?c invert fusion baths, nephrologist.
  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. http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/stevebergsman/westmount-canadas-beverly-hills According to wikipedia, Place Belvedere is considered the most expensive street on the whole island. I guess when there is only 10 homes on it, would make sense.
  17. (Courtesy of CJAD) I am all for trying to get better prices and a larger selection of wine. Now the SAQ just needs to buy a spirits distributer in the US so we can get better prices on scotch, vodka and other hard alcohol.
  18. Dana FlavelleBusiness Reporter Dana Flavelle Business Reporter There’s a bill before the U.S. Congress that would allow Americans to bring back $1,000 worth of Canadian goods duty-free after just a few hours of shopping across our border. Meanwhile, Canadians can’t bring back anything from the U.S. duty-free until they’ve been away for 24 hours. Even then the limit is $50. This protectionism is one of the reasons U.S. retailers who open up shop in Canada can charge higher prices here than in their home market, an economics professor says. “There are two reasons prices are higher in Canada,” said Ambarish Chandra, a professor with the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “It is more expensive. Retailers here have to pay higher taxes and have somewhat higher costs. But a larger part of it is because they can get away with it.” Canadians can complain all they like but unless they do more cross-border shopping, retailers here will charge whatever the market will bear, Chandra said. The same barriers exist online: Canadians are charged duty on items shipped across the border. The Consumers Association of Canada says it has lobbied Ottawa to raise the limits, noting the maximum exemption - $750 after a week-long stay - hasn’t changed in more than 15 years. But the consumer group says its efforts are always opposed by Canadian retailers. The Retail Council of Canada denies it has lobbied the government on this issue. “In an age when you can shop around the world, travellers’ exemptions would be the least of our concerns,” said council president and chief executive Diane Brisebois. “We have not had any conversations with the government about exemptions.” Ottawa doubled the exemption for 48-hour trips outside the country to $400 from $200 in 2007, but has no plans to make further changes at this time, said a spokesperson for federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. “We continually monitor the adequacies of the travellers’ exemption for Canadians. This includes taking into consideration the impact of any further modifications on the government’s budgetary balance and the impact on Canadian retailers,” the minister’s office said in a written statement. The U.S. currently allows $200 for same-day shopping. The issue of retail price parity arose again this week after some Canadian customers complained U.S. retailer J. Crew is charging higher prices in its new Canadian store and on its Canadian website than in its U.S. stores and on its U.S. website. The difference in the stores averages 15 per cent; the difference online is up to 40 per cent, once taxes and shipping are included. Canadians have been railing about price differences between the two countries ever since the Canadian dollar rose to parity with the U.S. greenback in 2007 after years in the doldrums. “It’s come to the fore again because the Canadian dollar is so strong and so many U.S. retailers are coming here,” said Lynn Bevan, a partner with the consulting firm RSM Richter in Toronto. Bevan said retailers who bring their operations north of the border face a slew of higher costs, from duty and freight to real estate and labour. Overhead costs in Canada are spread across fewer stores, and in some cases the Canadian business is separately owned and must pay royalty and other fees to the U.S. parent. “It’s not like Canadian retailers are making out like bandits,” she said. Prices were on average 20 per cent higher in Canada than in the U.S. on a broad range of goods from DVDs to luxury cars to golf balls, according to a survey last April by Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. The only times the price gap has closed in the past four years are when the Canadian dollar has dropped below the U.S. greenback, Porter said. http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1043928--canadians-need-higher-duty-free-limits-prof-says
  19. Deflation a concern in North America By Paul Vieira, Financial Post February 20, 2009 OTTAWA -- Inflation in North America is to remain benign for the months -- and perhaps years -- ahead, analysts say, as a shrinking global economy undercuts commodity prices and inventories in Canada remain at excess levels. Data were released in both Canada and the United States on Friday. The Canadian numbers, Bay Street economists say, further strengthen the case for the Bank of Canada to cut its key lending rate by a further 50 basis points on March 3. Further, the data indicate deflation remains a concern for policy-makers on both sides of the border. Statistics Canada said the headline inflation rate dropped for a fourth consecutive month, to 1.1% from 1.2%. The Bank of Canada’s core rate, which removes elements subject to volatile prices, such as energy, dropped to 1.9% from 2.4%. That is in contrast to the United States, where the cost of living rose 0.3% in January, the first climb in six months based on stronger energy prices. Last month, prices fell 0.8%. The U.S. numbers initially eased deflationary fears. Analysts, however, were not so confident. "The near-term risk has lightened a little bit, but if anything the medium-term risk may have been ramped up a notch or two by the clear evidence about how the global economy is sliding," Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, said. "The deep dive in the global economy threatens to further undercut commodity prices, and more broadly, pricing power in other industrial goods." Mr. Porter said the BMO economics team envisages the global economy shrinking 0.5% this year. As it happens, economists at Toronto-Dominion Bank issued an updated outlook that forecasts a similar contraction in the world economy -- the first since the Second World War. "Deflation is not a paramount risk right now -- but it is a risk when you are looking at a global contraction," said Richard Kelly, the TD senior economist who issued the revised global forecast. The Bank of Canada had forecast inflation would dip below zero for two quarters this year, largely based on the big drop in energy prices. However, the central bank has dismissed concerns about deflation, calling risk "remote." Mr. Porter said he believes Canada can avoid deflation, "but my conviction is weakening given just how weak the global economy has become." In a related report, David Wolf, chief Canadian economist at Bank of America Securities-Merrill Lynch, said inventory held by Canadian companies remains at higher levels compared with their U.S. counterparts. As a result, this excess supply will attract lower prices -- which will further drive down inflation. Mr. Wolf added there remains an "excess" overbuilding of housing supply in Canada. "That will continue to be a factor that will put a lot of downward pressure on prices," he said, adding that new house prices make up a small component of the consumer price index. © Copyright © National Post
  20. Un article du New York Time sur un penthouse à Vendre à Montréal. à Source: New York Time Album Photo INTERNATIONAL REAL ESTATE For Sale in ... Montreal By CLAIRE McGUIRE WHAT A one-bedroom penthouse apartment with industrial details and panoramic views of Montreal HOW MUCH 1,995,000 Canadian dollars ($1,866,400) SETTING This 10-story former factory was built in 1912 in the Paper Mill District near the financial district and Old Montreal. It shares the top floor with two other apartments, and overlooks several museums, the old port and the Chinatown neighborhood. Montreal is situated on several islands at the point where the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa rivers merge. It is about 325 miles north of New York City. Montreal is known internationally for its architecture and design, its strong arts scene and its vibrant gay community. INSIDE The apartment has an open layout; only the bedroom, bathrooms and a sitting room are enclosed. It would be easy to create an additional bedroom. The bedroom has an en suite bathroom and a walk-in closet with one wall made of opaque glass. There is a double-sided fireplace between the living room and the kitchen. The floors are of blue-stained hardwood in some places and slate tile in others. The high ceilings, painted brick walls and textured concrete pillars recall the building’s industrial history. The apartment’s seven arched windows overlook the city, three at the front of the building and four along one side. OUTSIDE A skylight in the kitchen could be enlarged to provide roof access, and the apartment’s owners have the right to create a private rooftop garden. The ground floor of the building has a restaurant, and all building entrances have electronic security doors. The apartment comes with two indoor parking spaces. Next door, the grounds of St. Patrick Church offer the nearest green space. The area has many bicycle paths, and the building is within walking distance of the city’s financial district, as well as cafes, museums and art galleries. HOW TO GET THERE The apartment is 25 minutes by car from the airport, and two blocks from Montreal’s main train station. WHO BUYS IN MONTREAL Louise Latreille, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec, said that she had seen an increase in buyers from Morocco, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, China and Japan — and that many foreigners were buying condos for their college-age children. Most of the city’s American buyers spend winters in Florida or California and summers in Montreal, she added. European buyers tend to look for homes in the mountains, not in Montreal itself. Meanwhile, many Canadian empty-nesters are moving back to the city, looking for “something chic and exclusive,” she said. MARKET OVERVIEW Sandra Girard, senior analyst of the Montreal market for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, says the market has been less active this year than it was in 2007. According to Ms. Girard, the number of transactions in the first half of 2008 was 3 percent lower than in the same period last year. However, 2007 broke records for the number of real estate transactions, making a slight slow-down inevitable, because “the activity registered in 2007 is difficult to sustain.” Meanwhile, sales prices continue to increase at a slower rate. Ms. Girard said overall prices for residential real estate increased 4 percent in the first half of 2008, compared to 8 percent in the same period last year. Ms. Latreille says condominiums continue to be popular among buyers in Montreal. A report by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board shows that prices for single-family detached homes increased less than 2 percent in the 12-month period to June 2008, while condo prices increased more than 7 percent over the same period. BUYING BASICS Stéphane Hardouin, a notary and partner in the law firm Sylvestre Lagasse in Sherbrooke, Quebec, says legal fees in Quebec are usually 1,200 to 1,800 Canadian dollars ($1,146 to $1,719). If the property is financed, he said, buyers usually pay an additional 750 Canadian dollars ($716) to the notary, and a mortgage registration fee of 137 Canadian dollars ($131). Buyers pay for an inspection, costing 600 to 1000 Canadian dollars ($573 to $955). Mr. Hardouin says the seller pays around 1,000 Canadian dollars ($955) for a surveyor’s certificate, and also the real estate agent’s commission of 5 to 7 percent. A goods and services tax, or sales tax, is assessed on new homes and on real estate agent commissions, he said. This tax is 12.875 percent. Land transfer taxes in Canada are different for each province. In Quebec, transfer taxes are paid directly to the municipality, Mr. Hardouin said. Montreal’s transfer tax, commonly called the “welcome tax,” has a graduated structure based on the purchase price. The first 50,000 Canadian dollars ($47,800) is taxed at 0.5 percent. The next 200,000 Canadian dollars ($191,100) is taxed at 1 percent, and amounts over 250,000 Canadian dollars ($238,900) are taxed at 1.5 percent, he said. USEFUL WEB SITES Official portal of Montreal: ville.montreal.qc.ca Official tourism website of Montreal: http://www.tourisme-montreal.org Divers/Cité, Montreal’s gay and lesbian arts festival: http://www.diverscite.org Old Montreal official site: http://www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca Greater Montreal Real Estate Board: http://www.cigm.qc.ca LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY French is the official language of Quebec, while English and French are the official languages of Canada; Canadian dollar (1 Canadian dollar=$0.93) TAXES AND FEES Maintenance fees are 907 Canadian dollars ($865) a month. Municipal property taxes for this apartment are estimated at 11,800 Canadian dollars ($11,255) a year. Ms. Latreille says this figure is 25 percent lower than the normal tax rate because the building is historical. Additionally, school tax is 2,535 Canadian dollars ($2,372) per year. CONTACT Louise Latreille, Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec (514) 287-7434; http://www.sothebysrealty.ca Mon bout préféré:
  21. Canada's housing market cools Home prices are still rising but much more slowly.Tyler Anderson/National PostHome prices are still rising but much more slowly. Resale price growth lowest in seven years Garry Marr, Financial Post Published: Friday, June 13, 2008 More On This Story TORONTO -- The Canadian real estate market is being flooded with homes, causing prices to start falling in some key markets, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. The average price of a home sold last month in the country's top 25 markets was $337,071, an all-time record. But that record price was only up 1.1% from May, 2007 -- the smallest year-over-year increase in seven years. "The record number of new listings means more opportunities for buyers," said Gregory Klump. chief economist with CREA. "The resale housing market has evolved in just a few short months." CREA said there were 67,628 new units on the market in May, a 7% jump from last year. It was the second straight month that a record number of houses has gone on sale. The impact on prices is being felt most keenly in Alberta. The average price of a home sold in Calgary last month was $418,881, a 2.4% drop from a year ago. Edmonton sale prices averaged out at $340,499, down 4.8% from a year ago. Unit sales in both Alberta cities are also plummeting. Calgary homes sales were off 34.2% from a year ago while Edmonton sales were down 34.8% during the same period. The home sales are dropping across the country. CREA said on a national basis sales were off 16.9% in May from a year earlier.
  22. The (mis)adventures of an Anglo in Montreal Petra Hendrickson Issue date: 4/9/08 Section: Opinion Montreal less than 48 hours ago, I thought I would use today's column as part anecdote, part travel advice and part opinion. The advice, although the most practical portion of this column by far, is the least fun to write about, so I'll dispense with it first. Make sure you tell your bank you're going abroad. Otherwise, their fraud department might put a block on your debit card after you use it to pay for a cab ride. This results in you having to apply for a new debit card, which will then take around 10 business days to be delivered to you. If you need help with something, ask. I have no recollection of the only other time I've flown internationally, and I was a little apprehensive about the customs and immigration process. Chances are, one of your fellow travelers will be more than happy to talk you through the process ahead of time. Granted, most people scoff at the idea of Canada being considered "international travel." Nonetheless, a flight there requires you to go through customs and immigration before leaving the airport, and chances are, you'll find something there that looks unfamiliar. Gas prices in Canada (or at least Montreal), for instance, are not only by the liter, rather than the gallon, they're also in cents. So a liter of gas is advertised as costing 114.2. Before I asked a fellow American at the graduate school I was visiting about the gas pricing system, I was pretty shocked. I mean, I knew gas prices were more expensive everywhere else, but even this seemed a little steep. Also, although I ate food while I was there, the fact that all menu items (even at Tim Horton's!) were in French pretty much means that I'm not entirely sure what I ate. There was Lebanese food of some kind, what I was told was a Chilean steak sandwich and a couple flavored croissants, but as far as specifics go, I'm pretty much at a loss. Everyone I encountered in Montreal was willing to accommodate English speakers, which was definitely much appreciated. My cab driver on my 1 a.m. excursion to the airport informed me that not only should I not have been shy about speaking English and being American, the locals don't mind at all because Americans are notoriously good tippers. The logic seems to follow that the more willingly people speak English to the Americans in Montreal, the more grateful the Americans will be, and the better they'll tip. I have to be honest. At least in my case, it was true. Most of the Anglo community seems to know how to speak enough French to get by ("restaurant French"), and certainly recognizes enough French to be able to differentiate street names from one another and the like. It was really interesting to me the combination of recognition and absolute confusion I experienced in the Francophone environment. On the one hand, words like café and boutique were easy markers as to what a building contained. On the other hand, all the words I didn't recognize meant that at some point, everything started to look the same, and it was pretty disorienting. On the whole, I'm definitely glad I visited Montreal. It was pretty eye-opening as to just how utterly American I am. I like to consider myself worldly in outlook, and I still think that's true, but it also made me consider exactly how non-worldly my experiences have been. http://media.www.indianastatesman.com/media/storage/paper929/news/2008/04/09/Opinion/The-misadventures.Of.An.Anglo.In.Montreal-3311500.shtml