2006-11-29

Park Avenue RIP

That was quick. Let's thank the city of Montreal for this post.

I've been sort of listening and observing the proposed name change by the city from Park Avenue to Robert Bourassa avenue.

Park avenue is one of those cultural mosaic streets in Montreal. Next to St. Laurent boulevard it is quite possibly the most culturally diverse street. Park is simply an institution that helps define this hip city. Montreal is filled with names that immediately conjure up detailed images of a particular spot in the city. St. Denis, the aforementioned St. Laurent, Ste. Catherine, Mont-Royal, Crescent and of course Park (to name a few) are legendary street names if such a thing exists.

It is rather unfortunate that the city has decided to pluck the name Park from our midst. We will take a name with personality off the map and add the name of a drab politician. I have no issue in naming a street after Robert Bourassa (even though he was a duplicitous wizard.)

Still, there are many streets in Montreal. Why choose this one? No, I have not come up with an alternative (though Cote Ste. Catherine or Cote des Neiges hit me at first) and it sounds as though the merchants on Park who are fighting the proposal have not either. Then again, when a government decides something it's very rare they will change mind.

On the positive side, Mayor Gilles Tremblay allowed this to go to a free vote. Montrealers are not accustomed to such acts of democracy from City Hall. Usually CH behaves more like a parochial city-state. On the negative, Montreal continues to self-mutilate itself when it comes to its history and heritage. We have no problem with destroying or eliminating landmarks in the name of 'progress' (i.e profits). What do you expect from contemporary politicians? History is a secondary issue today.

When I visited Boston a few years back I was struck by the respect the city had for its history. Everything is preserved. A visitor can feel that energy. Montreal can learn from Boston - I think. Maybe Boston does the same thing I don't know.

Montreal is one of the oldest cities in North America. It has a duty to preserve and protect its image. Instead, we convert Church's into condos and name streets after politicians. Blah.

The last time this happened was when the city switched Dorchester Boulevard to René Lévesque boul.

The irony, of course, in naming Montreal streets after politicians is that the city is the cultural hub of this province. It is also the economic engine. Its demographics are fast shifting away from the party platforms, for example, of the Parti-Québecois. Montreal is cosmopolitan, clearly interested in being bilingual (and in some case trilingual. Sorry L'Office. You're fighting a losing battle. Better to invest on more rulers. Something tells me you will have to harass many, many more merchants in the future.) and free.

There's not a damn thing they'll be able to do about this - except changing street names.

1 comment:

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