Revitalizing New York’s East River Waterfront


  • Meri Louekari Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture


waterfront, New York, urban planning, urban design, revitalization


Urban waterfronts are undergoing significant transformations. In many Western cities former industrial sites are experiencing a renewal as they are being rebuilt for new uses. For a long period, many waterfronts in inner cities were used primarily as industrial zones and harbors, limiting the number of citizens living on the shore. However, in the future new urban maritime districts around the world will provide cities with more waterfront housing and leisure venues.

The city of New York has already opened up access to miles of shoreline that had been closed off to the public for decades. Diverse waterfronts are now among the most important of the city’s resources. Open space, resiliency, living by the waterfront, transportation and in-water recreation are among the priorities for future development.

The aim of this paper is to look into current waterfront development along New York’s East River, map the activities and functions, and research the processes behind the development. The key question is what are the existing activities at the waterfront and what kind of approaches does the city have to face the future challenges at the coastline. The methods include field study, observation, data research, data analysis and interviews with key actors involved in the development processes in New York.

This paper will contribute to the discussion on urban waterfront transformation and the experiences it provides. Emphasis is placed on urban planning, programming, cooperation and innovation in relation to the waterfront. Urban development is viewed as a condensation of activities, programs and networks. The themes include meantime strategies and collaboration strategies. The aim is to shed light on what lies beyond – the models and processes of waterfront development that create urban experiences.




How to Cite

Louekari, M. (2018). Revitalizing New York’s East River Waterfront. Architectural Research in Finland, 2(1), 165–179. Retrieved from