Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
It took 50 years for the city to get a subway, so it's no surprise the mayor who pulled it off got all the credit.
The Montreal Metro system debuted on October 14, 1966, starting off with three lines and 26 stations.
Construction first began in 1962, the same year Montreal was awarded the 1967 World's Fair, and the subway system was up and running a year before Expo 67. In fact, the 25 million tons of fill needed to construct Expo 67's manmade islands came from the subway excavation process.
The city's attempts to build an underground mass transit system date back to 1910, but each effort failed until Mayor Jean Drapeau's second term. No small feat after 50 years of planning, a Montreal TV station celebrated the system's inauguration with a short film titled "The Tube That Jean Built." In it, Drapeau himself drives a subway car through the sparkling new stations while local broadcast legend Jack Curran sings about the new civic achievement to the tune of "This Land is Your Land:"
In a more serious film made the same year, "Montreal Horizon 2000" looked at the city's projected growth and how residents will end up getting around, with Metro playing a big part:
A few years later, the marketing team at Montreal Metro discovered the power of song and dance for wooing new riders:
Drapeau left office for good in 1986, leaving his city $1 billion in debt after the financial disaster that was the 1976 Olympics. As for the subway he built, it now serves 1.2 million passengers a day, with four lines and 68 stations. In a fitting tribute to the mayor who gave Montreal both a subway and a World's Fair at nearly the same time, the station used by Expo 67 visitors was renamed after him in 2001, two years after his death.