Today's urban riverfronts are changing. The decline of river commerce and riverside industry has made riverfront land once used for warehouses, factories, and loading docks available for open space, parks, housing, and nonindustrial uses. Urban rivers, which once functioned as open sewers for cities, are now seen as part of larger watershed ecosystems. Rivertown examines urban river restoration efforts across the United States, presenting case studies from Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; Chicago; Salt Lake City; and San Jose. It also analyzes the roles of the federal government (in particular, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and citizen activism in urban river politics. A postscript places New Orleans's experience with Hurricane Katrina in the broader context of the national riverside land-use debate.
Each case study in Rivertown considers the critical questions of who makes decisions about our urban rivers, who pays to implement these decisions, and who ultimately benefits or suffers from these decisions. In Los Angeles, for example, local nonprofit and academic research groups played crucial roles, whereas Chicago relied on a series of engineering interventions. In each case, authors evaluate the ecological issues and consider urban river restoration projects in relation to other urban economic and environmental initiatives in the region. Rivertown is a valuable resource for urban planners and citizen groups as well as for scholars.
Andrea Misako Azuma, Uwe Steven Brandes, Robert Gottlieb, Mike Houck, Paul Stanton Kibel, Ron Love, Richard Roos-Collins, Melissa Samet, Christopher Theriot, and Kelly Tzoumis
"From L.A. to New Orleans to Washington, D.C., America's urban waterways are in trouble. This remarkable book gets behind the history, politics, and science of the problem and suggests fresh and intelligent ways to reclaim city landscapes. The stakes are high: environmental stability, social justice, and (for some coastal areas) long-term survival."
—Robert R. M. Verchick, Gauthier-St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law, Loyola University New Orleans
"Rivertown is a significant and original contribution to the literature onthe restoration of urban rivers. It offers multiple case studies andviewpoints. Although all the contributors are strong advocates for riverrestoration in some form, they differ in their experiences, their ultimategoals, their levels of satisfaction with recent accomplishments, and theirsuggested approaches to the problem of wounded (or buried) waterways in ourcities."
—Patrick Malone, Department of American Civilization, and UrbanStudies, Brown University
"Paul Kibel's book recounts urban rivers in pipes, engineered to flowbackwards, locked in concrete, lethal to native fish, and forgotten in theneighborhoods of the poor. He does the valuable service of giving usinteresting cases on the new American frontier: returning the environment topeople who live in cities. The book describes a new hope for the citizen orprofessional who wants to improve the quality of life in some of the mostunlikely places."
—Ann L. Riley, Watershed and River Restoration Advisor, San Francisco Bay Region Water Quality Control Board