25 October 2007

black holes & blasting water

I live one block away from the barren, boarded-up city block that has lately been referred to as Montreal's "black hole." It is an entire city block whose gradual demise has been a hot topic in the Montreal news over the last few weeks, especially since the last remaining business--an Indian restaurant--recently vacated the area as well.

I would like to say that dilapidated, chaotic space is a rare thing in this city, but infrastructually speaking, Montreal appears to be crumbling, cracking, leaking, and bursting at the seams (see photos below for the last two effects).

Montreal's main thoroughfare, Blvd. St. Laurent has been dug up, sealed, and re-dug several times, much to the rage of local residents and business owners. Virtually every other main street is gouged by deep pits that are not properly fenced off, or just seem to gape open for weeks upon weeks.

In accordance with night-time construction, last night our water was supposed to be turned off for 6 hours, but stayed off for a good 13. This dry period was interrupted by a 4 am fire alarm (the second in two days). A friend of mine had his water turned off without warning for 36 hours.

Simply walking through the streets, one can see the sad state this city is in. Although I have little knowledge in the realm of urban planning or construction, it seems to me that a little co-ordination should be involved when planning to rip up major streets. How about warning citizens when water is going to be turned off? How about actually turning water off in the streets, instead of letting fire hydrants, hoses and pipes spray water all over the streets?

So many places seem to be sitting in a state of desertion. Another expample is Ben's Delicatessen (see above),once a montreal institution, has been closed for over a year, after a long labour dispute that began in July 2006.

It's hard to describe the appearance of the downtown core to people who do not walk through it on a daily basis, so I have taken it upon myself to document how dramatically ripped up this city is.

It's gotten to the point where the state of the streets are described as one would the weather. For example, today I asked Brian what it was like outside.

"Constructioney," he replied.

Which is why, despite the beatiful sun, I am staying indoors today


Andrew said...

no no, you wanna encourage this kind of urban decay because after 10 or so years, then hollywood comes and makes monster movies, ie my hometown of brantford and silent hill, which according to imdb: "Filming in Brantford, Ontario, Canada lasted four days. The decaying downtown strip that was used for most of the film is a section of Colbourne St. It was picked as such because not many modifications were needed as that area of the downtown was already in a state of decay."

ktmtl said...

That's what happens when you have an old city that was deprived of money for infrastructure throughout the 1980s and 90s. It might seem chaotic now, but in reality all of this mess is a good thing: it means that at last things are getting done.

The Seville block is really an anomaly. It's owned entirely by one company that has kept it abandoned for years while it dithers over development plans. I can't think of any similarly abandoned blocks in town. (Ben's was only vacated last winter and will eventually make way for a new condo tower.)

Dallas said...

Andrew, I have been to Brantford, and the downtown has a very similar series of murals over the plywood that is covering up all the abandoned storefronts such as the one here. I always thought it was only a rumour that silent hill was filmed there, but I could definitely see why they chose it. You should have gone home to be an extra!
ktmtl--I read that the most promising plan for that block thus far is to make a privately-owned student residence. I'm not sure, however.

Erin said...

makes for some good photography, in the meantime...