Habitat67: Over 40 Years Old, Still Cutting Edge
This was something that caught my eye whilst wandering around the Old Port and the pic duly taken without knowing what it was.
I had assumed at the time that it was a very modern apartment building and upon doing some research afterwards was surprised to find that, whilst it is an apartment building, it actually dates back to 1967. This is Habitat67 and was designed and built for Expo 67, housing being one of the main themes of the exhibition.
The architect responsible is the Isreali born Moshe Safdie who studied at McGill University. Habitat67 was in fact his Master's thesis piece which was selected in a competition for construction for the Expo. Safdie has since become one of North America's best know architects and his other Canadian masterpieces include Ottawa'a former City Hall and National Gallery.
The building was certainly ahead of its time with the 60's being better know for many failed residential experiments. Here the concept was to provide (in Safdie's own words) "a fragment of paradise to everyone". The building is constructed of 354 cubes to form 158 residences, stacked so that no two residences has adjoining walls and that each has its own private garden/balcony and views. The residences are made up of varying numbers of building blocks and provide accommodation for singles, couples and families.
It was initially intended as high-density, affordable housing, but the planned development of 900 units was scaled back to the 158 completed due to prohibitive construction costs. Also because of the cachet of the architecture and its riverside location the homes are no longer "affordable" in the sense that the architect intended.
It is however a fascinating structure and made for an interesting little research project.
see www.habitat67.com and www.greatbuildings.com for more info.
Go up the Mont-Royal.
Go up the Mont-Royal.
Right behind downtown stands the beautiful mountain. Getting up there offers you a magnificient view of the surrounding areas of Montréal. When time is clear, you can see untill NY State (Adirondacks).
By the water lies the Old city of Montréal. Built on the site of the original native american village (Hochelaga) this part of the city is the colonial one. Of British inspiration, you can feel like going back over 300 years in time. Number of restaurants awaits you there, for all tastes and all bugets.
international jazz festival
Jazz is not the only music that is played at this venue. There are many free concerts offered around the downtown area. More than one stage is setup so if you do not like one group you can always go to another place. Most are held near the Hyatt and Hilton hotels as well as Place de Arts.
Go to the Tam-Tams if you're...
Go to the Tam-Tams if you're going in the summer. The Tam-Tams are a culural event held every Sunday. People head off to Mount Royal at the statue and jam with african drums, whistles, flutes. They dance. It's a great place if you want to veg out on the grass in the sun after a night of partying. Just take the metro and get off at Mont Royal station. Head up the mountain. Follow the people walking around with drums, they'll lead you to it!!!!
Bastille Day in Montreal!
Lonely Planet's guide to Montreal mentioned that the Union Francaise holds annual Bastille Day (July 14) festivities. I've never had the opportunity to be in a French-speaking city on this day, so I wanted to take advantage of my auspicious timing.
I'd spoken on the phone the one English speaker in the entire building, who told me there'd be food, an open bar (for a nominal cost) and free entertainment. "An accordion!" she said. Yeeeeah-ha! I'm so there!
My favorite night in Montreal, it was one of watching friends get together, get drunk and dance. Sandwiches on good French bread and fruit tarts were on sale, as well as alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks for the kiddies and cheapskates like me. :->
And, as promised, there was an accordion player. Mostly older couples sang, waltzed, polka'd and tangoed all night. The event was so popular that the revelries spilled onto the front steps. The festivities started at 6:30 and was not scheduled to end until midnight. The Montrealeans outlasted me.
That night also captured for me how racially diverse Montreal is. I'd expected to be the one Black person in the entire place, but I found Black, white and Asian people of all age levels easily mingling together in a way that is rare in the United States. The racial tension and social segregation that people find "natural" in the US seemed relatively absent, which was heartening. This observation is based, of course, on a very short stay in Montreal, and I'm now reading a site on the history of Black French Canada in hopes it will shed some light on race relations in the city.
There are photos up from the night at the official site already, and when my own photos are developed, I will put them up in the travelogue.
The Union has activities year-round, so check the website for info (all in French, natch). Metro: Champs de Mars.