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What the future looked like

Every architectural drawing calls to the future, but some projections surpass their particular contexts to reveal something wider—and highly timely. It’s easy to recognize the currents of anxiety or optimism that run through the moments that populate this issue, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking they are familiar; these are past futures that never really arrived. Rather, they lie in wait, giving us renewed routes toward understanding what preoccupies us today.

Article 8 of 13

1966: Galactic Metropolis

In the mid-1960s, the city of Montreal carried out a series of studies that considered a variety of possibilities for the city’s form following models of other cities around the world: star-shaped, dispersed, linear, concentrated, galactic, and ring. The plans below present some of the options.

Planners ultimately chose a hybrid of these types, with a concentrated centre and a four-pointed star extending toward the periphery. As of 2011, the city had 1,649,519 residents, with 3,407,963 in its greater urban area.

City Planning Department, City of Montreal. Star-shaped metropolis (hypothetical plan for the Montreal region with a population of ten million inhabitants), plan no. 20 in Étude de la forme : Région de Montréal, no. 2 (Montréal : Service d’urbanisme, 1964–1966). HT395.C23 M64 1964

City Planning Department, City of Montreal. Galactic metropolis (hypothetical plan for the Montreal region with a population of ten million inhabitants), plan no. 22 in Étude de la forme : Région de Montréal, no. 2 (Montréal : Service d’urbanisme, 1964–1966). HT395.C23 M64 1964

City Planning Department, City of Montreal. Concentrated metropolis (hypothetical plan for the Montreal region with a population of ten million inhabitants), plan no. 24 in Étude de la forme : Région de Montréal, no. 2 (Montréal : Service d’urbanisme, 1964–1966). HT395.C23 M64 1964

City Planning Department, City of Montreal. “Noyautage II” (night view of hypothetical plan for the Montreal region with a population of ten million inhabitants), plan no. 28 in Étude de la forme : Région de Montréal, no. 2 (Montréal : Service d’urbanisme, 1964–1966). HT395.C23 M64 1964

Several of these plans appear in our 2004 publication The 60s: Montreal Thinks Big, which accompanied an exhibition of the same name.

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