Canada. Underground city in Montreal RÉSO or La Ville Souterraine

Montreal is ranked high at world lists of the most comfortable for living urban places. UNESCO named the cultural and industrial capital of Canada the UNESCO City of Design in 2006.  It is one of the oldest cities of the country, built-up by presentable buildings and monuments of architecture, which are not obstacles for the city’s underground infrastructure development.

Montreal Metro

Geography and climate of Montreal were the key reasons for choosing construction of underground transport and public structures, since the city is located at the island of the same name, where two rivers, St Lawrence and Ottawa join into one St Lawrence. It is the center of the city, the first lines of Metro were started there in its east and central parts for the large exhibition “Expo-67”. Initially Montreal Metro consisted of 3 lines, which were not jointed and there aligned in parallel at the distance of 750 m. Later the necessity of further development to the North arose to join the city and Olympic Village for the Olympic Games ’76.



Montreal Metro Map  (from the official site for Montreal Transport)

Modern Montreal Metro has 68 stations, with the total length of 4 lines being 69.2 km. Using of rubber-wheeled metro cars is one of the features of the Montreal metro.  The trains with wheels or traditionally oriented for rails operate on the surface of concrete or steel. The width of the wheel track is 1434 mm.  Engineers went by the aim to minimize the noise and disruption to when chose the trains on the wheels, instead of traditional on the rails. Metro of Montreal operates in different parts of the island where the city located. The shortest line is the yellow one, containing only 3 stations, but it joins Montreal with the continent. The busiest line is the orange one, leading from western part of the city, the island of Laval.
All the stations of the Montreal Metro are decorated quite originally, for example, the station “MсGill” has a large stained glass depicting important events of the history of the city and famous persons from French colonial to industrial times.

Stained glass in subway stations Place-des-Arts and McGill

Underground City

However, the underground part of Montreal consists not only of the metro system, but also the large pedestrian zone -  Reseau Pitonnier Souterrain (RESO) or  La Ville Souterraine, with the total length of 32 km.   RESO has exits to 10 of total 68 stations and large trade centers: Complexe Les Ailes, Centre Eaton, Bay Fashion Liquidation Centre, Les Cours Mont-Royal, Promenades de la Cathedrale and other buildings, which are to 10-stories high and two underground floors. The distance between the lines is 750 m that allows joining several streets with the short tunnels and underground floors of the buildings. Thanks to numerous atriums in the centers of the buildings, the daylight has access to the underground parts.

The map of the underground part of Montreal – RESO



Montreal. Art Square/Place-des-Arts

There are about 1600 stores and 200 restaurants located underground, 34 cinemas and several underground theatres (metro station Art Square/ Place-des-Arts, where the concert hall of the same name is situated). On the average, about half of the millions people visit the underground part of the city daily, making it the largest recreational zone for citizens and tourists, seeking also a shelter of the severe Canadian climate. 

Read more about the history of  RESO construction here…