Seoul's River Restoration Becomes A Model For Many Cities

<p>The restored Cheonggyecheon river, which once was reduced to a sewer capped by a six-lane highway, now serves as a focal point for urban recreation in the South Korean capital.</p>
January 10, 2007, 7am PST | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"...More than 50 years ago, the Cheonggyecheon was a wide but shallow seasonal stream that traditionally divided the city between the rich in the north and the poor in the south. It was where people went to wash clothes and kids to play, but as Seoul grew from being semi-rural to a vast, smog-bound East Asian metropolis, the Cheonggyecheon became little more than a sewer.

As cars took over the city the river bed was turned into a road, and then an elevated six-lane motorway was built above. It was one of the most comprehensive obliterations of the natural environment perpetrated.

But in a revolutionary act of ecological restoration that is now being examined around the world, the city of Seoul, under the leadership of the then mayor, Lee Myung Bak, pledged in 2002 to restore the river, tear down the motorway and create a 8km-long, 800m-wide, 400ha lateral park snaking through the city where the river once ran."

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Published on Monday, January 8, 2007 in Mail & Guardian Online
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