Montreal, 1967 Map

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By Ly Y. Bui

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Edited by: Isabelle Gournay
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Essay on the map of Expo 67 in Montreal 1967 created as a final assignment in World's Fairs: Social and Architectural History, HONR 219F, Spring 2001

Essays on the Material Culture of the World's Fairs
Edited by: Patricia Kosco Cossard and Isabelle Gournay
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University of Maryland Libraries
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Electronic version encoded on 22 December 2005

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Keywords:

  • Expo 67 (Montr??al, Qu??bec)
  • Exhibitions
  • Essay
  • 1901-2000
  • North America
  • Canada
  • Qu??bec
  • Montr??al
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This Esso city map of Montreal provides an overview of the 1967 exposition. The entire map is approximately sixty centimeters long and forty-five centimeters wide, while the image on our site takes up approximately one sixth of that space. Although the islands on the map are drawn to scale, the buildings depicted on the map are oversized for emphasis, and only the major Expo pavilions are depicted. The map is relatively easy to read. The Montreal expo of 1967 was spread out over four sections in the Saint Lawrence River: The Cit?? du Havre, Ile Sainte-H??l??ne, Ile Notre D??me, and La Ronde.

In his book Terre des Hommes (1939, translated as Man and His World), Antoine de St. Exup??ry wrote that "to be a man is to feel that through one's own contribution, one helps to build the world." This is the quote that inspired the theme for the Montreal exposition, also named Man and His World, after the novel's title. The 1967 exposition was supposed to take place in the USSR, on the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Although permission was given to the Soviets in 1960, they backed out in 1962. Jean Drapeau, Montreal's ambitious mayor, proposed that the fair be held in his city. A site was selected on the St. Lawrence River in order to avoid the costly expropriation of land. Only the Ile Sainte-H??l??ne and Mackay Pier, where the Cit?? du Havre would be located, existed originally; the other islands had to be built. The Ile Notre D??me was built out of mudflats, and the Ile Sainte-H??l??ne was extended to make room for La Ronde. These modifications in infrastructure expanded the fair's size to 1000 acres.

Originally, the Expo planners wanted countries to exhibit within "theme" pavilions, instead of in their own national pavilions. This would allow for more effective international coverage on specified issues, but Expo policy makers rejected the scheme as they felt that nations might not be receptive. Still, the Expo planners wanted to limit the types of pavilions at the fair, of which there were only five: national, theme, or commercial pavilions, and commercial or service structures. National pavilions were those built to represent a country. Theme pavilions tied in with the theme of the expo and St. Exup??ry's book, bearing names like 'Man the Explorer' or 'Man the Producer'. They were supposed to be significantly larger than any other fair buildings, and would be surrounded by clusters of smaller pavilions. However, according to the Architects' Journal, budget cuts were responsible for less impressive theme pavilions than first intended. Commercial pavilions were built by companies to represent themselves and included shops or restaurants.

Transportation was carried out in several innovative ways. The Expo Express, visible on the map as a brown line, consisted in electric trains traveling at twenty-five miles per hour that linked extreme ends of the exposition, connecting the Cit?? du Havre to La Ronde. Supplementing the Expo Express, the three elevated loops of minirails traveled about ten miles an hour. They allowed people to view exhibits in detail, and were designed to distribute visitors from congestion points such as the metro and Expo Express stations to extremities of the site. The trackless trailer train served the same purpose as the minirail, except it was used for less crowded areas. On the Ile Notre D??me there were also canal boats.

The Cit?? du Havre is indicated on the map in purple. The circular structure northwest of the Cit?? was the Autostade, a stadium built to remain in Montreal after the fair (it is still in existence). It had seats for 25,000 spectators and cost Canada three million Canadian dollars to build. The Habitat housing development was also built as a permanent structure in Cit?? du Havre. It is located on the eastern end of the island and is represented on the map by a zig zag-like outline. The goal of Habitat was to provide urban, middle-income housing combining high quality and medium density. Habitat was to be built on a 100 foot long, 220-300 feet wide expanse of space. It was conceived originally as an upside down pyramid, but the layout of the streets conflicted with that design. A right side up pyramid design was used instead, with clusters of block-like housing units stacked on top of each other. The housing units were built using pre-stressed concrete, with the floor of one unit forming the roof of another. Habitat managed to increase wildly in cost, until at the end it became luxury housing. Today, it has become a unique and desirable place of residence. In addition, 'Man the Creator' was one of the theme pavilions located in this section of the fair. It showcased exhibitions of fine arts, contemporary sculpture, photography, and industrial design. It is used today as an art gallery. Located directly to the left of Habitat, the other theme pavilions in this area were 'Man and his Health' and 'Man in the Community', which showed a film prepared by the National Film Board of Canada, presented in a multi-screened, multi-chambered concrete building.

The Ile Sainte H??l??ne is the light green area on the map, in the middle of the river. One of its most prominent buildings was the United States national pavilion, represented by the circle at the southeast corner of the colored section. It was nicknamed "Bucky's Bubble", after its designer Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). Its dome was covered in transparent materials and was particularly spectacular at night, when the exhibits were completely visible from the outside. A minirail ran through the pavilion, offering riders a glimpse at the exhibits inside. The Place des Nations, where the opening ceremony and other important events were held during the exposition, was located at the westernmost tip of the island, which also housed pavilions for Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Two U.S. states were also represented: New York and Maine. The theme pavilion on Ile Sainte H??l??ne was entitled 'Man the Explorer', and showcased exhibits about the conquest of space and the polar regions.

The Ile Notre D??me, the yellow section near the bottom of the map, housed several interesting buildings. The USSR pavilion, whose design was directed by Michael Posochin, was located across the river from that of the United States and achieved a similar degree of transparency. Designed by the architect Rolf Gutbrod and structural engineer Frei Otto, the German pavilion was located at the southern end of the island, nestled on the map in a corner of the Expo Express tracks. Covering an expanse of 80,000 square feet and supported strategically by eight steel masts, it was a huge tent-like structure in steel mesh and translucent plastic. The masts themselves were held in place by the tension from the steel rope netting. To the left of the German pavilion, that of Britain, designed by Sir Basil Spencer, had a cliff-like podium surrounded almost completely by water. The tower featured a stylized Union Jack, which was highlighted at night. Other pavilions on this island were those of Italy, Canada, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, and Venezuela, the United Nations and Canadian National Railroad Company, and a structure known as Kaleidoscope that was built by six chemical companies. There were also two theme pavilions, 'Man the Producer', located in the middle of the island, above the German pavilion, and 'Man the Provider', at the eastern tip of the section.

The fair opened on April 17th, 1967 and attracted over fifty million people. Although only a few dozen of the fair's ninety pavilions are depicted on the map, the image still does a good job of representing the fair and its ideals.


Works Cited

Aarons, Anita. "The Artists and Expo." Architecture Canada. 44 (June 1967): 17-19.
"The Architect's Expo." Progressive Architecture. 48 (June 1967): 126-127.
"Behind the Scenes at Expo." Architectural and Engineering News. 9 (April 1967): 108-109.
"Expo '67." Architects' Journal. 145 (7 June 1967).
"Expo '67: Revisited." Architecture Canada. 44 (August 1967): 25-44.
Danzig, Philip. "A&E News Goes to Expo '67." Architectural and Engineering News. 9 (June 1967): 24-26.
Findling, John E.. Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs and Expositions, 1851-1988. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990.
Komendant, August. "Post-Modern on Habitat." Progressive Architecture. 49 (March 1968): 138-147.
Miller, Jerry. "Expo '67: Search for Order." Canadian Architect. 12 (May 1967): 44-54.
Prus, Victor. "Expo 67 Stadium." Architectural Design. 37 (April 1967): 171-173.
Richards, J.M.. "Expo 67." Architectural Review (August 1967).
Rogatnick, Abraham. "Expo 67, The Past Recaptured." Lotus. 5 (1968): 12-33.
Schwanzer, Karl, "Geometric Representation of Austria's Pavilion at Expo '67." Architect and Building News. 233 (19 June 1968): 936-939.