When playfulness is injected into a cityscape a touch of magic can ensue, a breath of disbelief, an abandonment of convention. There’s a newish such micro-wonder in the heart of Montreal. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?
From la rue Sherbrooke, not far from Parc Lafontaine, two flights of stairs take pedestrians to la rue Saint-Christophe. It seems like a standard stairway until the white slide pops out side by side the second run of rust-stained, iron steps. It’s a small space and a relatively gentle angle of descent.
I set up a camera on a tripod on the level ground at the bottom thinking of doing some streeters. Well I do five or six but they are of the one line variety and most people, though bemused, don’t reply to me.
I ask one woman in her late 20s, early 30s, if she ever slides down. Des fois dans l’hiver – sometimes in winter – she replies looking back at me. A man in his 70s peers a little askance at the scene – the camera bag, satchel, the tripod, me running up the stairs to slide badly with nothing even approximating swiftness, acceleration, speed. Do you know, he says, il n’y a pas d’enfants ici… He walks off and in truth I have not seen one kid since I arrived.
A smartly dressed couple about my age step jauntily down the last flight of steps. They’re smiling at my interest in the space and encourage me to:
I don’t want to get too old to have fun, I say.
Doesn’t seem to be any fear of that happening, they say sauntering along their way.
It’s a very urban space with the smallest little green patch that has no green yet this early in the spring.
The slide is a behemoth, no fear of pranksters running off with it as it appears to be made of concrete.
A sign advises that I’m within the age range to use the equipment but apparently I’ve been breaking the law all afternoon as the city slide is not to be in use until after April 15. Who knew – guilty as charged.
What out of the ordinary play spots are in your community?
Aside from my half-dozen, half assed attempts there is only one other brave, or foolhardy person to take the challenge while I’m on site – a younger lad who went down semi-crouched and was a bit speedier about it than me. Oh and for the record, I did not witness anyone running up…
Now as much as I love this imaginative planning idea – a little shortcut between street levels to brighten pedestrian days, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a neighbourhood somewhere in the city, a quartier populaire teeming with kids who would fly down this gift and make it a focal point of fun….
Perhaps this is only a prototype. Imagine if it was exported to other cities and installed in the likes of Paris’ hilly Montmartre. In Halifax, we could have some fun with this concept at The Citadel or Grand Parade. It could be a great companion piece to The Wave.