Toward a Multiple Urban Waterfront

From Hamburg and Singapore to Los Angeles and Paterson, the reclamation of long-shunned waterfronts has become a defining feature of the 21st century city. Upon nearly every urban shore, it seems, once-gritty industrial zones have been reborn as newly desirable neighborhoods, their derelict piers and bulkheads supplanted by high-end condominiums and portside promenades.

The relentless rise of residential towers along urban rivers and canals has provoked a movement of sorts among designers, policymakers, and advocates who envision a more holistic waterfront for all. Driven by a confluence of factors — tightening environmental regulation, renewed interest in social justice, and ever-worrying climate change — these experts are asking how cities can shift from a monocultural landscape to a multiple metropolitan shore.