History And Vision Of The Quartier Des Spectacles
With a history stretching back more than 100 years, the Quartier des spectacles neighbourhood has always been a popular cultural and entertainment destination in Montreal.
In 2003, the Quartier’s purpose was officially defined with the creation of the Quartier des spectacles Partnership. The Quartier acquired its own visual identity and a shared vision: Live, Learn, Create and Entertain Downtown.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF AN ENDURING CULTURAL NEIGHBOURHOOD
The present-day Quartier des spectacles largely overlaps the site of Montreal’s former Red Light district, whose history extends back to the beginning of the 19th century.
At the end of the 1800s, important teaching institutions such as the Bibliothèque Saint-Sulpice and Collège Sainte-Marie moved into the neighbourhood. The Gesù theatre, the neighbourhood’s first cultural establishment, opened its doors in 1865 within Collège Sainte-Marie.
Other theatres followed: the Monument-National, birthplace of francophone professional theatre; the Gayety Theatre in 1912 (today the TNM); and the Théâtre Saint-Denis in 1916.In 1913, the Imperial Cinema was erected on Bleury Street, becoming one of the first “super palaces” to be built in Montreal.
Between the 1920s and the start of the 1960s, the neighbourhood was home to an impressive number of cabarets that headlined famous artists. Montreal garnered a reputation as a fun-loving city, and tourists started to arrive in great numbers.
THE QUARTIER DES SPECTACLES PROJECT
In 2001, one year before the Montreal Summit – a major meeting that aimed to define a common vision for the future of Montreal – a number of representatives from the cultural sector came together at the ADISQ offices to consider what proposals they could bring forward to energize Montreal’s cultural scene. The result of this reflection was the idea to create a Quartier des spectacles (QDS), positioning culture as a key development tool for Montreal.
At the Summit, the City of Montreal made the QDS a top priority, with the goal of establishing the presence of major festivals in the downtown area and showcasing its cultural institutions and performance venues. The task at hand was not to create a neighbourhood from scratch, but rather to identify it, highlight its rich cultural assets and equip it with the infrastructure to accommodate outdoor events.
VISION: LIVE, LEARN, CREATE AND ENTERTAIN DOWNTOWN
To develop this vibrant downtown neighbourhood, members of the Partnership have collaborated to create a vision focused on enhancing its cultural assets.