Montreal Part Deux – Golden Square Mile

Continuing my walk around Montreal, here is a quick tour of the Golden Square Mile, the “uptown” area developed in the Gilded Age.  So named because of the large residences and prominent office buildings/shopping destinations, the area still has a manicured, refined feel.  The fine arts museum anchors Sherbrooke Street with a lovely 1912 Beaux Arts structure.

Museum of Fine Art in Montreal; a walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

Across the street is a modern museum structure by Moshe Safdie, which does look a little out of place.  I didn’t scrutinize it, mostly because the morning sun was coming from right behind it.  However, Montreal does not seem shy about contrasting new with old, as this adjacent structure illustrates.

Museum structure; a walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

I walked right up to that nook between old and new; the glass mullions are pressed right up against the old stone.  Its a nice detail.

There are many residences along Sherbrooke, and plaques mark the most significant.  Here are some doors and facade details:

Private Residence; a walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

A walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

There was a lovely pair of buildings further down the block with some exceptional landscaping in front.  Overall, the street plantings in MTL were quite good.  I imagine winter must be pretty bleak but it does look great in the summer.

Lovely facade; a walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

A walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

The building to the left was on the corner, and I walked around and checked out the courtyard and carriage house.  This funny little “guardhouse” structure was tacked on to the back of the main structure.  It looks like a roof that was added above the basement stairs… very odd for such a sober, historical structure.

Little Guardhouse; a walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

A nicely-detailed apartment building entrance:

Apartment building entrance; a walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

Continuing the juxtaposition of old and new, the Ritz Carlton hotel is adding a shockingly-modern glass structure to their old building.

Ritz Carlton; a walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

Next door was the Streamline Modern Holt Renfrew department store.  This seemed to be the haute shopping corridor of MTL, with Coach, Prada and the like on these several blocks.

Streamline Moderne design; a walking tour of the Golden Square Mile

Behind this neighborhood is a long set of stairs which leads to the entrance of Parc du Mont Royal – the small mountain in the center of the city-island.  If you have been reading my posts on urban walks, you know I love hilly cities.  Walking up these shaded stairs was a great treat in the middle of summer.  Everything was very clean, no litter or signs of danger.  The promise of a huge urban park awaits my ascent.

Stairs linking Golden Square Mile to Parc du Mont Royal

There were some grand apartment houses at the base of the park, which is also the edge of McGill University campus.

Apartment house at the top of McGill University in Montreal

This house had an incredible view of the city, as right behind the mountain begins rising.  A short walk up the road is the park entrance.  Along with scores of others, I walked up the hundreds of steps and around the meandering Frederick Law Olmstead driveways to the Chalet du Mont Royal – the lookout spot.  The view is pretty spectacular; my manually stitched Android photo:

Panoramic Image of Montreal

Overall however, the park was a bit disappointing.  It didn’t seem all that “wild”, and there were no other designed-in views or features to get excited about.  I took to the single-track walking trails through the forested parts, but they very quickly led right back to main carriage paths.  I only found one interesting bridge feature, but even that was not up to the usual FLO/Vaux quality.  So, I descended the long stairs and went back to the city.  I was going to try the Bixi bike rental, but the kiosk I approached was not taking my credit card, so I jumped on the subway.  Built in 1967 (the pinnacle of MTL, the year of the big Expo), it is very clean and the cars run on rubber tires, just like Paris.

Next up will be a short tour of the bohemian St. Louis Square, my favorite little spot in MTL.

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