We end the visit to Montreal with the random views of the city starting with this stylish building – once a gas station designed by none other than famed architect Mies van der Rohe. Today it serves as a community center.
Montreal has an efficient subway system, built in the 1960s and 1970s. This station is on Ile Notre Dame.
This island, and one next to it (Saint Helen’s) were greatly expanded to be the grounds of Expo 67, a World’s Fair. Today it is the home to a very large Park Jean Drapeau as well as the Formula 1 race track.
The city has recently started tours of the island on electric carts. We opted for this tour where Sonya and Andre provided amusing and interesting information about the island, and Montreal in general. Unfortunately we didn’t get much over 20 MPH on the track.
Unlike most World’s Fairs, Montreal has retained many of the pavilions that were built. This one was the French and Quebec pavilions, and now serves as a casino.
This geodosic dome is known as the La Biosphère de Montréal. Today it serves as an environmental museum, but during the expo it was the U.S. pavilion.
From the island you have a nice view of downtown Montreal.
Montreal is the 2nd largest French speaking city in the world, and at times they like to take their cues from Paris – like this retro (but accurate) Metro sign.
We say adieu to Montreal with some random scenic views of the city.
The city of Montreal was the host of the 1976 Summer Olympics. The area that most events were held still exist in the east side Olympic Park.
A number of the venues are still used for sporting events.
While it has recently been remodeled, the pool complex dates from the 1976 games. It is used for competitive events, with seating for 3,000, but is also used as the neighborhood pool when not in competitive use.
The Montreal Olympics are the poster child for cost overruns often associated with hosting the games. It is estimated it cost 720% (not a typo) more than originally planned.
Much of the cost overruns was due to the construction of Olympic Stadium.
Today there is a small museum dedicated to the games and the construction of the stadium.
The stadium looks like a 1970s sci-fi movie space ship. The large tower on the left was originally built to remove what was to be the first retractable stadium roof in history. Unfortunately it was not completed in time for the games, and when it was eventually completed it didn’t work.
So for the first 12 years or so of the stadium it was open air, and after that a permanently closed dome.
Walking around the large concrete plaza on this day with very few people gives one the feel of desolation in the middle of a large city.
Many North American stadiums used to sit in the middle of large concrete plazas like this – the newer generation of stadium more integrated into the cities are far nice, even if one can question the cost for holding so few events a year.
After the Olympics the stadium became home of the Montreal Expos baseball team. Unfortunately in 2004 they left town, moving to Washington DC. leaving the stadium largely quiet, except for a few concerts and other events like monster truck racing.
The cavernous domes stadium echos with the smallest noises. I did have the opportunity to attend a couple of baseball games here (one with the open stadium, the other with the roof in place). It was a great experience, baseball in French, with passionate fans using their own unique to Montreal style of cheering on their team.
Hopefully some day major league baseball returns to Montreal (but to a more appropriate venue).
The tower is now a tourist attraction. The inclined elevator is billed as the longest in the world.
The top of the tower offers panoramic views of Montreal.
The view of the Olympic Pool, and other venues in the park.
The Olympic Village apartments are still used. The soccer stadium is a recent addition.
The day was a bit hazy, but made the views towards downtown interesting.
Montreal’s east side is a working class neighborhood with numerous row houses.
The view of the islands in the middle of the St Lawrence River, as well as some of the bridges crossing the river.
Because much of Europe is fairly far north, the port of Montreal is the shortest route between a European port and North America.
Olympic Stadium cost the city of Montreal and all of Canada significant money, but as with most things Canadian, they have made the most of it.
The Toronto postings end with a more focused modern architecture tour. With more than 70 new skyscrapers more than 150m (500 feet) high built since 2000 (second in North America to New York), there are plenty to choose from, although a few of the more interesting buildings downtown are not skyscrapers.
Not all of the buildings below were built after 2000, but all have the modern architecture look.
The city of Toronto has the 3rd best skyline in North America, according to the building website Emporis. There are more than 60 buildings at least 500′ high.
We had the opportunity to take an architectural tour with Daniel, from the Toronto Society of Architects. If there was someone you wanted to wander downtown Toronto with to learn about the history of the city, and the buildings, it is Daniel, as he has over 40 years of experience designing many of them.
Not all the buildings on this posting were seen on Daniel’s tour, but with the knowledge from him we were able to seek out more than what he had time to cover.
Included in these is (to me) the Mecca of Hockey – Maple Leaf Gardens. The Gardens were closed to NHL hockey more than 20 years ago, but the good folks of Toronto had the sense to retain the building and re-purpose it.
Most of the 1st level is a large grocery store, while Ryerson University uses the remainder of the building for athletics.
The highlight is on the current 3rd level – the ‘original ice’, as well as the exposed original ceiling!
Since the 1970s Toronto has had a near continual skyscraper building boom.
There are pockets of historic buildings scattered throughout downtown. In the distance is the clock tower of the ‘old’ city hall.
Completed in 1899 it was used as city hall until 1966 when the new city hall (feature photo for this posting) was completed.
E J Lennox was the primary architect for the old city hall in the 1890s. As was custom at the time he expected to have his name engraved on the building. When city council told him no – he got his revenge – by doing a ‘grotesque’ of himself. He is in the center with the mustache.
Even better was his revenge on his bosses in the city council – he included them as goofy looking people in grotesques, which means 120 years later he is still getting his revenge.
If you look enough you find many art deco touches, including these nice skylights in the Toronto Coach Lines building. Not bad for a bus station.
Another art deco entrance along Yonge Street.
All around you get glimpses of old and new.
The Bank of Nova Scotia building is one of the better art deco examples.
As is the Canadian Bank of Commerce.
A portion of the Hockey Hall of Fame is in the ornate lobby of an old bank.
Union Station is another example, and will shine even more when the renovations are completed in a few years.
Not downtown, and not a skyscraper the ‘Palace of Purification’ is the R C Harris Water Treatment Facility in Scarborough. It is an art deco masterpiece with a great setting along Lake Ontario.
Toronto is a city on the move, and their architecture shows it.
It was a great 10 days in Buenos Aires. I am not certain what I was expecting but whatever it was, BA exceeded it!
The Nueve de Julio Avenue is the center of the city. Created in the 1930s by wiping out an entire city block wide, and nearly 3 miles long, it is an impressive sight.
The city exists because of the huge estuary of the Rio de La Plata, creating one of the world’s great ports.
The city is full of great architecture starting with the Retiro Train Station.
The Torre Monument is in the plaza in front of Retiro. The tower was completed in 1916 by the same architect who built Big Ben.
Just down the street is the Kavanagh Building, an Art Deco masterpiece.
One of the highlights of the city is the number of ‘Palacios’ remaining from the early 1900s. While there were once more than 100, less than 40 remain, but those that still stand are magnificent.
In addition to the Palacios there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of impressive buildings.
The city was the first city in South America to have a subway, starting over 100 years ago.
As with any city, not all are enjoying the good life. Buenos Aires has some ‘Villa’s, basically shantytowns for the very poor. The city says they have a plan to help improve the lives of the people living in the Villas, but only time will tell.
No visit to Buenos Aires is complete without a stop at the Obelisk.
For now it is time to fly, but not before joining the crowd to watch a soccer game while waiting on the plane. True Buenos Aires!