Anyone who has lived in a big city between the months of June and September knows how torturous it feels when the sun reflects off metal, glass, and asphalt to essentially create a street-level hothouse. Luckily, residents of coastal urban areas like New York and Los Angeles have the luxury of being close enough to the ocean that they can spend a day at the beach whenever their little hearts desire — but the same convenience is not available to city dwellers further inland. Thank god we live in a world where architects are full of all sorts of bright ideas for urban design, because the concept of urban beaches has taken off in several cities where a slimy river is the only source of open water. And with the opening of Clock Tower Beach this weekend, Montreal will join the growing list of cities where the lack of a shore won’t be depriving residents of summertime fun any longer.
Similar to the seasonal beach along the Seine in Montreal’s sister city, Clock Tower Beach will transform a section of the city’s Old Port into a faux-beach close to the St. Lawrence River. Starting this summer anyone who wants to go lay out and catch a breeze off the water (and is willing to pay a small cover charge) can simply walk down to the Quai de l’Horloge from the Old Montreal neighborhood — poutine in hand, no doubt — for sun, sand, and awesome views of the Jacques Cartier Bridge and Ile Sainte-Helene.
Visitors won’t be able to actually get in the river, but as someone who has been splashed by the chunky brown water of New York’s similarly urban Hudson River, this actually seems like more of a pro than a con. But don’t worry — according to Claude Cormier, the landscape architect behind Clock Tower Beach, there will be plenty of other amenities to take your mind off the lack of surf:
Beach umbrellas and weeping willows, brightly coloured chairs and fixtures, showers and mist stations, a boardwalk, silky sand, and a refreshment stand all combine to offer visitors a few moments of sheer idleness in a breathtaking setting.
And for the social drinker in all of us, there’s even a restaurant with a bar! It looks fairly classy so I doubt they’ll serve my favorite beach drink (the Cancun special of grain alcohol and fruit punch in a yard glass), but beggars can’t be choosers.
Clock Tower Beach opens this Saturday, June 16 and will be open everyday from 10:30 am to 7:30 until September 2, remaining open only on weekends until it closes for the winter on September 23. That gives us three whole months to make our way to Montreal this summer for the inaugural season of the world’s newest urban beach. Who’s coming with?
Image via the Montreal Gazette