West is South

mtlIn Montréal, like many cities, the main cross-town streets are divided, somewhere near the current or historical center of the urban area, into “East” and “West”.  This seems like a fairly easy concept to grasp, and should help people get around more easily.  The problem in Montréal is that all of the streets with East and West bits run almost directly North and South.

Consider Sherbrooke St. in this map.  I have not changed the orientation of the image – north is straight up.  You can see that “Rue Sherbrooke E” runs north and that “Rue Sherbrooke O” (Ouest = West) runs south.  Similarly, people talk about the “East End” and the “West Island” when they are actually north and south, respectively.

The reason for this (I presume) is that Montréal is located on an island in the Saint Lawrence River.  The river, over its whole course, tends to flow east into the Atlantic ocean.  But the bit where Montréal is located flows nearly directly north.  Regardless, people think of downstream being east, and vice versa.

I don’t suppose this mattered much for the last 300 years, but now, many cars have electronic compasses or GPS guides in them.  How is that going to work?  Will tourists be freaked out when their navigation system tells them, “Turn north onto Sherbrooke St. East.”?

I like quirky things like this, and I think they can be huge marketing advantages.  Every bar should have something slightly off-kilter – something remarkable – to set it apart.

P.S. Also on this map is Île Sainte-Hélène, where the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is located.  That is where there will NOT be an F1 race this summer.  Sorry, Netdud.

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One Response to “West is South”

  1. netdud Says:

    Here in Omaha the main East-West road is Dodge. At some point, it becomes West Dodge, and then Highway 6. It still runs in both directions though, so you see exit ramp signs on the connecting roads and highways for “West Dodge East” and “West Dodge West.” This is not terribly clear, but I suppose the extra traffic it creates on the on- and off-ramps keeps them clear of snow for the locals.

    As well, it is very common in my part of town to have numbered streets and avenues that run parallel to each other. In fact, they are right next to each other. Yep–49th Street is right beside 49th Avenue. And in the same Zip code, of course. Hilarity ensues!

    Further, it is a (semi) standard that the STREET of a certain number is one block EAST of the AVENUE of the same number.

    I, of course, live on one of a very small number of exceptions to this convention. Our 50th Avenue is East of 50th Street.

    And let me tell you, the pizza is NEVER hot on 50th Ave.

    As for the non-existent Canadian GP: DO NOT GET ME STARTED, MAN!

    Just don’t.


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