Downtown Montreal is the central business district of Montreal. It is nearly enitirely located at the southern most slope of Mount Royal and is approximately bounded by Sherbrooke Street to the north, Papineau Avenue to the east, Guy Street or until Shaughnessy Village to the west, and the Ville-Marie Expressway to the south all in direct latitude towards the Saint Lawrence River. The downtown region, as expected houses many regional, provincial and national corporate headqaurters as well a large majority of the city’s skyscrapers which, by law, cannot be greater in height than Mount Royal in order to preserve the aesthetic predominance and intimidation factor of the mountain. The two tallest of these are the 1000 de La Gauchetière and 1250 René-Lévesque, both of which were built in 1992. The Tour de la Bourse is also a significant high-rise and is home to the Montreal Exchange that trades in derivatives. The Montreal Exchange was originally a stock exchange and was the first in Canada. In 1999, all stock trades were transferred to Toronto in exchange for an exclusivity in the derivative trading market.
Place Ville-Marie, an I. M. Pei-designed cruciform office tower built in 1962, sits atop an underground shopping mall that forms the nexus of Montreal’s underground city, the world’s largest, with indoor access to over 1,600 shops, restaurants, offices, businesses, museums and universities, as well as metro stations, train stations, bus terminals, and tunnels extending all over downtown. The central axis for downtown is Saint Catherine Street, Canada’s busiest commercial avenue. The area includes high end retail such as the Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy department stores as well as Les Cours Mont-Royal shopping centre. Other major streets include Sherbrooke Street, Peel, de la Montagne, de Maisonneuve and Crescent.
The skyline may be observed from one of two lookouts on Mount Royal. The lookout at the Belvedere takes in downtown, the river, and the Monteregian Hills. On clear days the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York are visible, as are the Green Mountains of Vermont. The eastern lookout has a view of The Plateau neighbourhood, Olympic Stadium and beyond.
Montreal is known for its contrast between old and new architecture. The Tour KPMG and the aforementioned 1000 De La Gauchetière are located adjacent to an Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedral respectively. Downtown Montreal is also home to the main campuses of McGill University and UQAM and a campus of Concordia University. Municipally, the downtown area is part of the Borough of Ville-Marie.