The Mountain Street Viaduct

Weird eh? A road passing over the roof of the old CN stockyards in Little Burgundy. This is the former Mountain Street Viaduct, and it, much like just about everything else in this picture, is now gone (save for the row of old buildings along Notre-Dame, which are fortunately part of a rejuvenated community, not to mention the Nordelic Building towards the top-right corner).

Two things come to mind when looking at this picture.

First, look at the overlapping infrastructure – here, where residential zoning is typically rental properties above street-level commercial units amidst light and medium sized industrial operations, which at this time largely employed local residents. Industry is fed by the ‘arterial and circulatory systems’ of the modern industrial city – road, rail and canal interact, overlap and connect. They move bulk freight and cargo at different intervals, speeds, quantities etc, and all of this can happen with workers who live within walking distance of their employer. This means that heavy industrial transport can happen efficiently (using canal and rail systems, and thus without the need of trucks) and workers don’t require a car to get to and from work. It’s convenient, though at the time and largely because of the proximity to industry, this area was largely viewed to be a slum. Today it’s a home to many massive condo projects. Sometimes I wonder whether there is still a place for this kind of mixed-use quarter in the modern city, and if in the future we might not require a similar relationship between this specific kind of zoning and heavy transport infrastructure.

Second – why aren’t all elevated highways designed to be placed on top of buildings? Or why aren’t buildings (like factories, warehouses, parking garages, strip-malls etc) placed under highways? We’ve developed the techniques and technologies to mitigate damage through friction, vibrations etc, not to mention cut back on the effects of sound infiltration. Otherwise, elevated highways are dark, noisy, dirty barriers that cut-up neighbourhoods and place unnecessary and unnatural barriers between various parts of the metropolis. Let’s re-enforce the elevated highways by placing new structures beneath them. Otherwise it really is poorly used space – we need to be more efficient, wiser, when it comes to how we design key pieces of infrastructure.

Anyways, just a thought.

You can also see Rockhead’s Paradise towards the bottom right of the picture.