Delta Urbanism Reflection (JV)

Along with its yellow steel bridges, Pittsburgh is known for the three rivers that run through the city. Creating a fork-like shape, these rivers allowed for easy transportation that helped build Pittsburgh into the city that it is today. Although the rivers contributed to the early advancement of the city, they were neglected during the Industrial Revolution for newer modes of transportation such as railroads. Thus, the rivers became a dumping ground for the overwhelming amount of sewage that could not be contained by the sewers and pipes. Similarly, Delta Urbanism notes that the Dutch also experienced water pollution around the time that the steam engine and railroads were introduced.

In response to this issue, W.N. Rose created a new belt of canals that offered “a public promenade and a new residential environment for the urban upper class” (87). Creating riverfront architecture rather than canals, Pittsburgh experienced a similar revival by attracting recreational boaters and creating a leisurely atmosphere. Today, land near the rivers is prime real estate as important attractions like Heinz Field and PNC Park border the water. Interestingly enough, large companies have seemed to move further inland leaving the land near the water for more recreational purposes.

While rivers may not serve as functional a role as they did in the past, there is something primitive in humans that draws us to the water. As cities continue to grow, it is essential that planners highlight natural features of the land in an environmentally conscious way. We should not think about how we can exploit the river’s resources but rather how to integrate them into the city.


4 thoughts on “Delta Urbanism Reflection (JV)

  1. First of all, I loved your clean, simple, and easy to read drawing. I can’t agree with you anymore about how we should set integration with nature as a priority than exploiting it. I am from Seoul, South Korea, and the Han river, the huge river goes through the middle of the city, had a similar type of transformation with the Ohio River. As the city entered the modern period, the Han river was no longer commercially used, real estate value along with the river skyrocket, and the river’s main purpose is turned into recreational. I see the similarity of our two cities’ transformation as prove of us thinking more ecofriendly. May using the river as recreational use got the citizens close to nature and force them to realize the importance and beauty inside nature.


  2. I find it interesting how you mentioned that many of the large companies moved further inland, almost as if to make space to use the waterfront for entertainment such as the PNC park. On another post, as well as my own, I noted that often times creating water based functions, such as man made lakes, led to the area transforming its purpose and becoming more of a tourist attraction. It’s odd because no one would consider an electric plant to be a tourist attraction by any means, but the Hover dam for example is very famous and the only difference is that the energy is created by water. Its had me thinking quite a bit, and a previous comparison I made was that humans gather around water-based tourist attractions in a similar way that animal gather around a watering hole. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but it seems like water has underlying importance in the human subconscious that draws us there naturally.


  3. I really enjoyed your post and drawing. The shift in the use of the river and its revival is fascinating. I also noticed that people always have the desire to incorporate rivers or water into their surroundings. Even though rivers have lost their place in transportation to new technologies in the modern world, they still function as the means of navigation and maintain their commercial value. Moreover, I agree with you that “we should not exploit river but rather incorporate it”. When designing a city, one could try to built the city according to the shape of its rivers rather than completely alter the water features to accommodate ones’ plan. This reminds me of the design of Suzhou, an ancient city in China that fully incorporated its rivers into the cityscape. Rivers in Suzhou are integrated as moat and transportation system within the city. In ancient time, rivers served as roads but with the construction of enhanced roads and metros they become places for boating.


  4. This was an excellent read. “There is something primitive in humans that draws us to the water” really stuck with me, because I too share have begun to share that idea recently. I wrote about the Missouri River and and it appears both of our bodies of water have played a role in shaping surround cities. It’s interesting you bring up the idea of railroads and how the use of rivers have changed over time. Something I notice by the Missouri River is train tracks and trains run along the coast often, which makes me wonder if they were used interchangeably? It’d be interesting to look how how much trade is don on the River v. Trains year by year, and see if there’s a pattern or where there are shifts. This is a great map too, and you did a great job explaining the connection between city planning and major bodies of water!


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