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Date:10/31/2014 2:19:05 AM
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OLD MONTREAL – DAY 2 - part 2
At that time, the lack of nightlife gave the district a reputation for danger at night. Old Montreal increasingly found itself changing to accommodate the automobile. Several prestigious locations, such as the Place d'Armes, the Place d'Youville and Place Jacques-Cartier, were snarled with traffic in the mid-20th century. For municipal authorities unaware of its potential heritage value, Old Montreal was an anomaly. City planners considered wider streets, which would have meant razing many older buildings. A proposed elevated highway along the river over the rue de la Commune spurred a movement to preserve the district. Dutch-born architect and urban planner Daniel van Ginkel played a major role in saving the district from destruction during the early 1960s. As assistant director of the city of Montreal's newly formed planning department, he persuaded authorities to abandon plans for an expressway that would have cut through the old city. In 1964, most of Old Montreal was classified as an historic district; despite this, the Quebec government razed several 19th-century buildings to build a new courthouse. Revitalization of the district involves the inventory, upgrading and renovation of abandoned buildings, which are converted into offices or residential condominiums; the process is often expensive. In addition to the return of a residential base, the area is again attractive to the hotel industry. While in the 19th century all major hotels were in Old Montreal, by 1980 there were none. In 2009 there were about 20, mostly in restored older buildings. A steady stream of tourists and the presence of new residents encourage nightlife and entertainment. In addition, municipal authorities have invested large sums to renew the area's infrastructure. The Place Jacques-Cartier and part of the Place d'Youville have been redesigned, and a restoration of the Place d'Armes is in progress. A lighting plan was also developed to highlight the different façade styles. There is now a consensus that the historical legacy of Old Montreal is its major asset. Aided by redevelopment, it is now the leading tourist destination in Montreal.
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