Montreal is the Second largest city in Canada and the largest city in the province of Quebec. The name Montreal has been taken from Mont-Royal which is the triple peaked hill located in the heart of the city.
Montreal is known as the world’s largest underground city in the world. It is also known as the indoor city. Montreal is the network of interconnected complexes underground. But entire city is not underground. There are certain parts which are overground. Since Montreal has both overground city complex as well as underground city complex, it is popularly known as “Double Decker City” or “Two Cities in One”. The interconnections between different complexes that are underground has been achieved through the construction of tunnels. The tunnels are technically and architecturally sound. They have conditioned air and good lighting to create comfortable environment and make it aesthetically pleasing.
Some tunnels are narrow which serve as a wide passage for the people to pass whereas there are some large tunnels which are wide enough and bear shops on either sides of the tunnel.
The various complexes connected through tunnels include shopping malls, apartment buildings, hotels, condominiums, banks, offices, museums, universities, seven metro stations, two commuter train stations, a regional bus terminal and the Bell Centre amphitheatre and arena.
Access to the underground city has been designed for easy accessibility by the people. This has been achieved by providing around 120 exterior access points to the underground city. Each access point is an entry point to one of 60 residential or commercial complexes comprising 3.6 km2 (1.4 sq mi) of floor space, including 80% of all office space and 35% of all commercial space in downtown Montreal.
Since the climate in Canada in winter does not permit easy movement in the city overground, they have developed the entire concept of Underground city so that the people can move around comfortably irrespective of the kind of climate. It is estimated that over 500,000 people use the underground city in winter everyday.
Between 1984 and 1992, the underground city expanded, with the construction of three major linked shopping centres in the Peel and McGill metro station areas: Cours Mont-Royal, Place Montréal-Trust, and the Promenades Cathedral.
Development of the Montreal’s Underground City
Mega-projects added to the size throughout the 1990s, including Le 1000 De La Gauchetière which is the tallest building in Montreal, Le 1250 René-Lévesque, and the Montreal World Trade Centre. These trade centres have a connection to the underground city as a selling point for their office space which is why they have a secondary commercial sector.
Also, the construction of a tunnel between Eaton Centre and Place Ville-Marie consolidated the two central halves of the underground city. The construction of the Bell (originally Molson) Centre connected Lucien-L’Allier metro station to the underground city, as well as replacing Windsor Station with the new Gare Lucien-L’Allier commuter train station.
Finally, in 2003, the complete redevelopment of the Quartier international de Montreal consolidated several segments of the central underground city with continuous pedestrian corridors.
Various development projects that were proposed for the over ground Montreal City have been interconnected with the Underground city of Montreal.