Thursday, May 19, 2011

Building Around the River

Many cities are built on or across rivers. It's always interesting to see how various cities deal with the river and making it part of the city.

Often, industrial and warehouse districts were located along the riverfront, making it a fairly unappealing place. Freeways were also often located along the riverbank, which meant that residents could not reach the riverfront, but could only look at it from afar. Although it's a difficult process to undo, many cities decided to reclaim their riverfront property for waterfront parks and commercial uses.

And then there's Columbus, Ohio. Are there other cities like this? There was a big flood in Columbus, Ohio in 1913. After that, city leaders decided to widen the river and build retaining walls, based on a recommendation from the Army Corps of Engineers. During the building boom of the 1920s, the Civic Center was built on both sides of the river. It strikes me as very unusual and ahead of its time.


  1. Interesting post Christine. Especially in light of what is going on with the Mississippi and other rising rivers!!! Maybe we should take a day off and go canoeing?? Have a great week!

  2. I can't think of another American city off hand, but the Columbus image immediately makes me think of the urban gesture made by the Palais de Chaillot (1937) to the Eiffel Tower (1889)/Parc du Champs de Mars across the Seine in Paris. The Palais du Trocadero started the scheme in 1878, but I think that the cross-river relationship wasn't clear until Chaillot replaced the Trocadero. In that case, the Columbus civic center may have actually been a precedent for the Paris development, if it was built in the 20's.

  3. Christine, it's always so refreshing to see examples of true forethought and design in city planning and development. I detest towns that sprawl down a highway, building willy-nilly. I have become 'hooked' on a new Facebook game called Garden of Time which involves 'building' ancient and modern scenes. No rivers but I have lots of aquaducts, koi ponds and two fountains. No threat of quitting my day 'job' to become a city planner, but am enjoying learning about building placement, usage, perspective, etc.

  4. Columbus certainly looks more organized that most cities, but it looks awfully sterile to me(at least on the postcard).

  5. Great collection of riverfronts there! I think I got a headache thinking about the traffic! Haha. I really like the lines of the artwork on the bottom Columbus one.



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