Building Montreal: The Aldred Building

Aldred Building

I was photographing Sunday morning in Old Montreal. Actually, I woke up at 5:30 and figured that if I was going to be awake I may as well do something constructive. I was not disappointed. I'm a morning person. I have always enjoyed that feeling of being awake before most of my world. I love driving around just before dawn, the empty streets, the street lights getting ready to flicker off, the chill in the air, watching another surviving soul in the sleepy, surreal apocalyptic grey light walking down the street or waiting for the bus. I wonder if they are feeling what I feel. There is peace and clarity and as a breeze floats over my cheek I shiver at the thrill of the world existing only for me.And there is always parking. I cannot wander down to the area and not photograph the Aldred building. My lens often seems a bit too preoccupied with the beautiful Art Deco building cross-corner from Notre-Dame. It's ziggurat, step-back design was probably due to the city bylaws prohibiting buildings over 12 stories unless step-backs were included, a bylaw also adhered to by New York City, and it is no surprise that the Empire State Building has a similar design.

Construction started three months before the stock market crash in 1929 and miraculously the construction continued and was completed in 1931. It was Montreal's first sky scraper, with state-of-the-art elevators and a visible break from the classical architecture in abundance around the square. The architects reflected the mass of the cathedral on the lower part of the building and cleverly aligned it to both Notre-Dame and Place D'Armes streets even though they do not meet at 90 degrees. I had never noticed until someone pointed it out to me on an architectour a couple of years ago. The building was commissioned to be a symbol of wealth and properity. Times had changed by the time it was finished, but the vision of the design endures to this day as a piece of luxury and beauty from an era that so many of us wish we were a part of.