An Urban Beach

What are you planning to do with your last unofficial weekend of summer? Are you spending it on the beach, on some body of water? Not everyone  lives near a beach or someplace with access to usable waterfront. Some they live in a town or area that is landlocked or perhaps in a city that has yet to reclaim its industrial era waterfront land, often land previously used for shipping industries, grain elevators, railroad yards and related structures and infrastructure.

So, imagine you live in a town or city without beach access, with a waterfront that was full of potential. What if you could construct a “beach” for residents? What if that beach had clean sand, beach umbrellas and chairs, but no place for swimming? How does that sound? The concept exists in practice and is known as an “urban beach” or a “city beach.”

The Clock Tower Beach in Montreal, Quebec is such a thing. The waterfront in the Old Port has undergone extensive revitalization and a recent development is this beach. People pay an entrance fee and have access to sand, umbrellas, chairs, misting stations, restrooms, a snack bar and great views of the St. Lawrence River and the Montreal skyline views.

Clock Tower Beach: A manmade urban beach on the river in Montreal, Quebec.

At first the concept struck me as absurd: a beach that is just sand and no swimming? What fun is that? However, it is a unique alternative to additional grassy areas of a park. It’s summer – who wouldn’t want to put their toes in the sand and get some sun next to the water, lying in the sand, as opposed to sunbathing on grass.

The beach is open June – September. I wonder what it’s use will be in the winter. Will the sand be covered? Removed? If this area is only open for a few months out of the year, is that good land use planning?

Clock Tower Beach: Looking the other direction down the St. Lawrence River (nice truss bridge, too).

There is a traditional boardwalk promenade and tree filled grassy park in the Old Port, but this new beach is one of the most unique features. How inspiring to hear of new revitalization efforts thinking outside of the box. And, Toronto already has a beach – designed by the same company. Urban beaches exist in a few places, with only one in the United States listed.  Any others?

What do you think of an urban beach?  Want to visit? Here’s more information.