The underground city

Yves Lafontaine
With temperatures dipping below -30 degree Celsius and annual snowfalls in the 250-centimeter range, Montréal is renown for its challenging winter climate. The city's downtown core is ideally situated. It is bordered by Mount Royal to the North and by the Saint-Lawrence River to the South. These natural landmarks coupled with the simplicity of downtown Montréal's configuration make for an exceptional urban setting. Montréal's first underground mall was inaugurated in 1962. It was located beneath Place Ville-Marie, a magnificent 47 storey skyscraper. Place Ville-Marie's underground mall was linked to Montréal's Central Station and to Le Reine Elisabeth Hotel. This 285 000 square meter complex was one of the largest in the world and was an instant success. Construction of Montréal's metro system began shortly thereafter, followed by the hosting of the 1967 world's fair. A real estate boom was generated, giving way to an underground network whose commercial activity continued to intensify. Construction of Complexe Desjardins and Place Bonaventure in the 70's, and then Centre Eaton, Cours Mont-Royal, Place Montréal Trust and Promenades de la Cathédrale in the 80's caused this underground network to expand even further. Montréal's indoor city was further extended in the 90's and is now over 30 kilometers long.
This indoor city is home to more than 1,000 shops, boutiques and restaurants. It is linked to several condominiums, office buildings and hotels. More than 1,000,000 people come here daily, via Montréal's metro system. Guided tours provide a wonderful opportunity to discover this hidden facet of Montréal, while admiring the works of art found in each metro station. It is hard to imagine that despite the cold and the snow, some Montréalers can brave the elements without ever having to put their coats or snow boots on. The indoor city... a side of Montréal not to be missed