Seoul's River Restoration Becomes A Model For Many Cities

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.

"...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."

Full Story: How a river helped Seoul reclaim its heart and soul



The Vanishing Automobile

From this article: "Hwang said: "The tearing down of the motorway has had both intended and unexpected effects. As soon as we destroyed the road, the cars just disappeared. A lot of people just gave up their cars. Others found a different way of driving."

Of course, it is easier to give up cars in Seoul, where there are many alternatives, than in many American cities (as they are now designed). Nevertheless, some traffic also evaporates in American cities when road capacity is reduced.

Clearly, the vanishing automobile is not a myth.

Charles Siegel

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