It seems as though there is a highly compartmentalized, perhaps sanitized, version of quaint Montréal we present to tourists and visitors on a scale that resembles cartoonish stereotypes of American excess. We don’t show the outside world what makes us powerfully unique and a thoroughly desirable place to live. No, instead, we put a dinky local spin on what remains a bad interpretation of American pop-culture. Its the Three Amigos, the Nickels and the thankfully forgotten foray into Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Café territory that I think make some of the distinguished addresses of our city thoroughly un-Montréalais. We need to stop designing our city along what’s popular elsewhere, because at best we can only reproduce a pale imitation.
But people love us for who we are, and love coming here specifically for what sets us thoroughly apart from the pack. A good deal of the tourism experience in this city, based on what I’ve read in guide books, is the insistence on exploration. In general I agree with this kind of mentality, but why not open the market the better competition for key commercial real estate a little closer to beaten path.
Consider our local film industry, constantly advertising our city as a universal stand-in for any other city on either side of the pond, but never advertising Montréal for Montréal’s sake (and as we should know by now, capturing the aesthetics of Montréal on a whole is a difficult proposition, despite the beauty so apparent to any visitor). I’m tired of being told I’m looking at New York or Paris when I know I’m looking at Montréal. What sets those cities apart is that their citizens are perennially dissatisfied with the status quo, and we’re desperately trying to slow ourselves down and take the path of least resistance. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
All great cities need to prepare for and execute a constant self-criticism that leads to impassioned and driven local entrepreneurs to lead individually for the common good. Ultimately, the common good is typically well aligned with the business interest’s bottom line.
A great read. What's a place's public face?