Morning Coffee: Grounded

Manhattan, April 21, 2007: “My nose is going haywire this morning. Perhaps this is because when I travel I have to put off my morning brew until I can get from my hotel to a decent coffeehouse. Am I ever glad, then, that I discovered Grounded.” I am a coffee fiend. Each day I venture […]

Scenes from the Spitalfields Market

The Spitalfields Market, just east of the City of London on Commercial Street, has existed in one form or another since 1638. The existing market hall was built in 1887 but a new extension, airily contemporary in contrast to the brick-and-iron heaviness of the old hall, recently opened. Apparently, the annex replaces part of an […]

Spring, Finally

One of my favourite passages about Montreal comes from Leonard Cohen’s 1966 novel, Beautiful Losers. “In Montreal spring is like an autopsy,” he writes. “Everyone wants to see the inside of the frozen mammoth. Girls rip off their sleeves and the flesh is sweet and white, like wood under green bark. From the streets a […]

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Then and Now #5: St. Urbain Triptych

This triptych, arranged by Guillaume St-Jean, pays three visits to St. Urbain Street as it descends the slope between Sherbrooke and Ontario streets. The first photo, taken in 1931, reveals a row of classic Victorian greystone houses. By the following year, however, the houses had given way to a new school. Sometime after WWII, the […]

Posted in: Architecture by Christopher DeWolf 2 Comments

Inside Krakow’s Old Jewish Quarter

First the artists move in; with them come improvements to the buildings and trendier night spots. Then, lured by a newfound sense of respectability, comes the bourgeoisie, and finally the neighbourhood is protected with a historic preservation statute. This is what’s called “stage gentrification,” and you can learn about it in any 100-level urban geography […]

How Jane Jacobs Changed My Life

I’ve been interested in cities for as long as I can remember. My childhood is marked by Lego metropolises on the living room floor, streetscapes doodled in schoolbooks and early Saturday mornings playing SimCity for hours on end. So it only made sense that, when I was fourteen, on a beautiful summer day spent wandering […]

The Indian Ambassador

Most of the time, cars get in the way of good streetlife photos. Not so with the Hindustan Ambassador, a replica of the 1956 Morris Oxford that is still made in India today. Long considered India’s national car, it was once one of the few models to be seen on the road. The recent liberalization […]

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But Is It Art?

Objects affixed to posts on St. Viateur and Milton streets in Montreal

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Il fait beau dans l’métro!

[youtube]rn6mmGUHE9M[/youtube] Watching these old advertisements—one from the 1980s for the Paris metro and another from the 1970s for the Montreal metro—leave me with mixed feelings. My initial reaction is to ridicule them for their kitschiness (or kétainerie, as one might say here in Quebec) but, at the same time, I feel a slight pang of […]

Reading Alone, One Warm Afternoon

Reading on the Place des Vosges and on the bank of the Seine

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Then and Now #4: Mutilated in Mile End

When it was built in 1929, Reding Apartments was a building both beautiful and modest. Clad in greystone, its façade was embellished with playful etchings that depicted seashells, flowers and lots of swirly things. It was perfectly proportioned, a brilliant example of the solid Main Street architecture that was common on Montreal’s commercial streets in […]

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Vital Signs: The Logo Cities Symposium

“When I first moved to Montreal I had an apartment at Jeanne Mance and Milton. I used to look up at the mountain and I could see the cross and what I thought was the devil’s pitchfork—I guess it’s a radio tower but it’s all red lights and the cross is all white lights. I […]

I’m Looking At You

Trastevere, Rome Islington, London

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Yiddishkayt and Soviet Spies: Life on the Main

St. Lawrence above Duluth during an election campaign in 1950. Election signs in Yiddish, English, French and Russian can be seen For more than fifty years, from the turn of the twentieth century until the early 1950s, St. Lawrence Boulevard was the robustly beating heart of Montreal’s Eastern European Jewish community. Here, set amidst the […]

Posted in: Canada, History, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf 5 Comments ,