Originally Posted by someone123
Had Montreal been founded in 1850 but otherwise followed approximately the same arc of development these photos would be very different, even though in some of these pictures the oldest buildings are from the 20th century. The streets would be different, the lot sizes would be different, the older landmarks would be gone, and there wouldn't have been the same long opportunity for organic growth and development in terms of local institutions, buildings, and culture.
No doubt that's a relevant point. I have that same impression. The overall feeling of a neighborhood mostly depends on the time when its planning started. It's not so much about when buildings were built since they all had to fit the original street and lot outlines, the alignment and so on, each building bringing the specific aspects of its time though, which generates architectural diversity.
That's why the old quarter of Montreal feels "European" to you guys. The street width, the kind of density right there are clearly older than what you usually see in North America. It's like a piece of medieval planning over there so to say.
I think the great thing about it is that it feels as friendly as a urban environment can be. But when you have to really increase density, it might lead to something quite extreme, like this over here for instance:
That block is not even really old, it must have been built 100 to 150 years ago. Still it shows how very old the original city urban fabric is.