Montreal is my new favorite North American city. There's so much I could write about that I've decided to write multiple posts. [caption id="attachment_152" align="aligncenter" width="700" caption="Vibrant streetlife of Old Montreal"][/caption]
Montreal has a great mix of culture, architecture, cuisine, and urbanity that I haven't experienced in any other North American city. There are aspects that are Chicago-esque (St. Denis and St. Laurent have vibrancy of Halsted and Clark Streets) and others that are New York-ish (western part of Old Montreal recall SOHO back in the day). Yet the scale of the city seems very walkable and compact. Rue Prince Arthur and Duluth are reminiscent of the Potato Rows in Copenhagen but with an infusion of restaurants that the Danes can't boast. Montreal captured my heart and I can't stop ranting about it.
Their attitude of the waterfront was one that I wish the future designers of Seattle's waterfront might take cues from - industrial maritime uses take place aside cultural institutions and tourist pedestrian traffic. I saw bikes, trains, walkers, pedicabs, horse drawn carriages, and light duty trucks - and without a lot of signage or honking. Is it the difference of social norms and attitude that makes Canada seem so civilized compared to us?
Quick facts - With a population of 1.9 million people in the city (compared to 617,000 in Seattle) and a metropolitan area of 3.8 million (compared to Seattle's metro area of 4.2 million), Montreal is the second-largest city in Canada and the largest city in the province of Quebec. French is the official language of Montreal, which makes Montreal the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. The city takes its present name from Mont-Royal, the triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city.
Look for future posts on food, shopping, the Grand Bibliotheque by Patkau Architects, and Iannis Xenakis (Canadian Centre for Architecture had a great exhibit on his work).