Winnipeg’s New York City Groove
From grand edifaces to cobblestone streets and expansive city parks, Winnipeg delivers its own New York City charms without the hustle and bustle
Ionic columns flank the facade of Winnipeg's Bank of Montreal. Photo by Barb Edie.
Can’t make it to Manhattan this year? Well, a stroll around some of Winnipeg’s architectural landmarks instantly transports travellers to the Big Apple without the noise, traffic and pushy crowds.
Starting on Broadway, experience your first “New York moment” as you take in the magnificent Fort Garry Hotel. Winnipeg’s grand-dame hotel bears a striking resemblance to another famous chateau-style building, New York’s Plaza Hotel.
Like the Plaza, the Fort Garry’s impressive stone exterior and steep sloping roof reflect the “Francois I” style that was popular at the turn of the 20th century in big cities of the northeastern United States. Both of these signature hotels feature flat facades with four-bay pavilions and large, segmented windows. They also dominate their city skylines and have welcomed royalty and celebrities alike.
Get more New York inspiration at Winnipeg’s Union Station which was designed by famed New York architects Warren and Wetmore, who created Grand Central Station. Much smaller and quieter than the New York landmark, Winnipeg’s century-old railway station welcomes passengers through its column-flanked arch over the main entrance and into the elegant rotunda within.
At Portage and Main, Winnipeg’s neo-classical beauty—The Bank of Montreal—was designed by McKim, Mead and White, a distinguished firm known for their monumental public buildings including New York’s Columbia University and the circa 1910 Beaux-Arts masterpiece, Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. With its iconic columns, Italian marble walls and stairs, and a detailed ‘art nouveau’ gold leaf ceiling (worth $1 million in 1980), the Bank of Montreal’s interior could easily pass for a New York space.
And what says “New York City” more than skyscrapers? Winnipeg was home to some early towering buildings, including the Union Bank Tower. When completed in 1904, it was Canada’s tallest building and the country’s first modern skyscraper. Built by the same people behind NYC’s Flatiron building, Union Bank was the first steel-frame building to be 10 storeys or higher and had the largest and fastest elevator in Canada for its time.
Discover Union Bank while on a walking tour of The Exchange District, which covers many of the city’s early 20th century architecture. Or delve into local film-making lore on the “Reel to Real” tour.
Moving from urban design to landscape design, New York’s influence carries over to Winnipeg’s most cherished green space—Assiniboine Park. Designed by landscape architect Frederick Todd in 1904, the park’s large open meadows, winding tree-lined drives and natural woods were designed with Manhattan’s Central Park in mind. Like its American counterpart, Assiniboine Park is also home to a zoo, sculptures, a conservatory and meticulously kept flower gardens, all of which can be enjoyed by guided tours.
Get into Winnipeg’s New York City Groove on these guided tours:
• Explore Winnipeg’s Exchange District on one of several themed walking tours that explore the history and architecture of the downtown neighbourhood. The walking tours run until the end of August. Click here for more information.
• Take a guided tour of Assiniboine Park, the jewel in Winnipeg’s extensive city park system. For more information call (204) 927-6070 or click here.