Embracing Rivers as a Vehicle for Urban Revitalization

A new study includes urban rivers as a potential powerful amenity for economic development and revitalization. The city of Chicago has already taken note.
December 19, 2016, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The idea that the long-fetid [Chicago River] could become an urban amenity is occasionally greeted with some skepticism," writes Whet Moser, "but there’s a logic to it, and a new working paper from the Chicago Fed provides some interesting new evidence." That paper identifies the gentrification processes of downtown areas in recent years, like in Chicago, and credits much of those successes to amenities that attract college educated whites.

After combining the findings of that study with another by Sanghoon Lee and Jeffrey Lin from 2014, which identified oceans, lakes, rivers, and hills as an amenity, Moser has built a case in support of the catalytic potential of Chicago's ongoing river revitalization efforts. That some rivers, like the Chicago River or the Los Angeles River, have in the past been "disamenities," reveals how much untapped potential such waterfronts represent.

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Published on Monday, November 21, 2016 in Chicago Magazine
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