Few things excite me more than urban re-creation; inspiring redevelopment that attracts people to live, work and play in the city. I am not a fan of town centers, parking structures or a new building or two. I love to see a city take a negative, like a derelict elevated rail structure that was considered and eyesore, and turn it into a unique park that attracts new development and becomes the center of the new community, as New York has done with the Highline.
I have heard about the Riverwalk in San Antonio but did not expect a beautifully landscaped, widely varying, 10 mile walk/bike trail that is spurring redevelopment and getting people active. The San Antonio River is really not much of a river, more like a stream, but planners are milking it to the maximum. Most people are probably more familiar with the Riverwalk downtown and the main tourist area, but the new extensions are where the real story is, in my view.
San Antonio’s Riverwalk:
North of downtown they are getting more artistic with interesting grottos, art pieces, Japanese inspired landscaping, stages in the river, and locks for water taxis. It seems like everywhere you look they are redeveloping warehouses into lofts and building new condos. An artistic young community has taken to the area with the many funky outdoor river-front bars, micro-breweries and eateries. South of town, the river is left in a more natural looking state and is a serious bike path. While the south-side is considered less desirable, the area is showing signs of improvement and everyone seems to be enjoying the river front.
It has been said that dollar for dollar parks bring the best return on investment. The San Antonio Riverwalk is one of the best examples I have seen of this in action. It is my hope that all cities begin to realize that stadiums, arenas and convention centers are nice, but making cities enjoyable and livable is better for the health for all and will attract more people and will be a greater asset in the long run.