Re-Activating Our Cities’ Waterfronts

The Smart Growth America newsletter last week alerted me to the fact that Tampa has a RiverWalk that connects landmarks (including the arena where the Republican National Convention will convene later this month) to parks, shopping, residences and restaurants. I have been slowly gathering information about riverfront developments (small and large) across the country. [See my Rheinauhafen blog for an excellent International example]. Large sections of Philadelphia are bounded to both the east (the Delaware River) and the west (the Schuylkill River) by riverfront [re]development opportunities. Skim through the slideshow below for the highlights of my riverfront development findings to date.

Philadelphia, PA: Top Row (l-r): One of the Delaware Riverfront’s newest parks, Race Street Pier, adaptively reuses an old industrial pier providing spectacular views of the River, the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Duck Tours; however there are many more abandoned or underutilized piers that could be transformed to provide riverfront destinations. Bottom Row (l-r): Grays Ferry Crescent on the Schuylkill is a popular destination for bikers and fishers; however lots of riverfront industrial sites still exist along the Schuylkill blocking the extension of this bikeway.

San Antonio, TX: The San Antonio RiverWalk in its current (engineered and landscaped) state dates back to the 1950s and has become the City’s biggest tourist attraction. Restaurants, shops and hotels border on a rock-lined, channelized San Antonio River. The RiverWalk is known for its vibrant colors and nightlife and also helps protect the City from floods. (Source:

Memphis, TN: Memphis’ Mud Island River Park has a “Riverwalk” that is just that – a scale model of the Lower Mississippi River including twenty cities along the route. The constructed river empties into an acre-size Gulf of Mexico that you can actually boat out onto. (Source:

Louisville, KY: The Louisville Waterfront is home to 85 acres of parkland including walking paths, picnic and play areas, restaurants, an amphitheater, plazas and lawns. The “Park” was built in three phases over 10 years at a cost of almost $100 million. (Source:

Washington, DC: Georgetown Waterfront Park is a brand new, 10-acre park that re-greens and re-activates a formerly industrial stretch of the Potomac River near Georgetown. Just a short walk (more like a hike) down from Georgetown lies a lush green and stormwater friendly park.