New Orleans is called the Crescent City for the shape the city takes around the bend of the Lower Mississippi River. Yet, for a city with such an abundance of water, there is often a disconnect between the city and its famous river. Deteriorated and vacant wharves line areas of otherwise valuable riverfront property. Aside from select riverfront parks in the French Quarter, Uptown and the Riverbend, recreational access to the waterfront is limited and disjointed.
Starting in 2008, a development team formed by the New Orleans Building Corporation, the Port of New Orleans and the City of New Orleans has laid out a plan to capitalize on New Orleans’ riverfront asset. Reinventing the Crescent is an inspired and pragmatic development plan calling for increased access to and along the river for recreational use, commercial and residential development of unused riverfront property, and improved infrastructure for maritime uses as a bustling port. The approach recognizes the potential of riverfront development to enhance quality of life in the city while strengthening the river as an economic engine.
To improve recreational access along the Mississippi River, the plan calls to:
- Create a six-mile riverfront park space and river trail system;
- Connect prominent streets that run perpendicular to the river all the way to the water’s edge;
- Use urban design elements to create visual access points to the waterfront;
- Build pedestrian bridges to provide access to the waterfront across the railway tracks;
- Plan diverse programming to attract a variety of activity from solitary birdwatching to large-scale amphitheater performances.
To spur commercial and residential development, the plan calls to:
- Reclaim land on the river’s edge by demolishing abandoned and obsolete wharves;
- Develop commercial and residential property where there is sufficient land between the railroad tracks and riverfront;
- Encourage educational developments on riverfront land held by local universities.
- Design modern cruise ship terminals to compete with Miami as a cruise port;
- Preserve and maintain active port facilities for shipping and trading functions.
If Reinventing the Crescent were to be carried out as envisioned, New Orleans could have one of the greatest riverfronts in North America. It could be a bustling hub of maritime activity, a valuable piece of commercial property and a recreational destination for all residents and visitors to enjoy.
What are some cities that have made great use of their waterfront property?
Credits: Photos by Antonio Felguerez. Data linked to sources.