In Touch with the Water

Written by Scott Kratz

Cincinnati’s Waterfront Playground

Boardwalks, parks, trails, water taxi stations, aquatic sports, boat launches and docking sites are all examples of successful waterfront activities. In an effort to connect citizens with their natural environments, cities across the county are creating riverfront public spaces like Louisville’s Waterfront Park and San Antonio’s Riverwalk. Closer to home, Hudson River Park or even the Baltimore Inner Harbor have become successful models. Some are complete, others are still in the making like the 11th Street Bridge Park and the Seattle Waterfront.

Pittsburgh’s Waterfront Trail

Waterfront views have long been linked to wealth, but it has been a goal of many city officials to provide residents public access to these amazing views. By attracting people to waterfronts, cities revitalize what are sometimes neglected areas, and bring together people to create shared civic spaces and build social capital.

These spaces encourage multiple activities such as hiking, kayaking and boating that also improve public health. The activity selection determines the atmosphere – commercial or more natural environments. Dining, shopping, museums, sports arenas, docks, trails and playgrounds attract diverse groups to the same shared spaces and the outdoors.

Hudson River Park

The 11th Street Bridge Park is trying to do just that, help District residents engage with the Anacostia River. The Bridge Park will feature floating kayak and canoe docks providing direct interaction with the water. Indirectly, the view atop the center plaza will provide unrivaled views of the waterfront. The future Bridge Park will foster an innate connection with the water bringing the two banks of the Anacostia River, and the residents that line its banks, a little closer together.