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Port cities and urban waterfronts: how localized planning ignores water as a connector

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People have redesigned coastlines, creating ports, shaping waterfronts, and building cities to connect water and land. Specialists from many disciplines have explored the function and design of the water–land transition over many centuries. Among them is planning, a discipline that engages both with the functionality of working ports and the design of the waterfront for the urban public. In order to explore the development of working ports and the revitalization of abandoned inner‐city waterfronts since the 1960s, this paper reviews planning and planning history literature in regard to the specific appreciation of water. It first examines the planning of ports and its focus on improving the speed, safety, and logistics, assigning water an industrial role. Second, it reflects on the design of post‐industrial waterfront spaces, which ascribes a more aesthetic and symbolic as well as leisure‐related role to water. Third, it points to the recent reconnection of cruise shipping with inner‐city waterfront redevelopment and the coastline in general. In conclusion, the paper underscores localized perceptions of water in planning literature and the need to recognize how interconnected water systems connect otherwise separated areas along the same coastline. It argues for the integrated planning of port, waterfront, and city in conjunction with a comprehensive study of the environmental and ecological role of water in each of those places, both as a resource they share and, with climate change, a risk to which they must collectively respond. WIREs Water 2016, 3:419–438. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1141 This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Planning Water Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented
London Docks with Sail ships in 1810. Source: Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832) (after) John Bluck (fl. 1791–1819), Joseph Constantine Stadler (fl. 1780–1812), Thomas Sutherland (1785–1838), J. Hill, and Harraden (aquatint engravers) in: Pyne, William Henry; Combe, William (1904) [1810] ’The West India Docks’ in The Microcosm of London or London in Miniature, Volume III, London: Methuen and Company, pp. Plate 92 Retrieved File:Microcosm of London Plate 092—West India Docks.jpg
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Water connects all areas of Amsterdam for transportation and beautification. Woodcut by Cornelis Anthonisz made in 1544 after an oil painting of his own making from 1538. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam#/media/File:Cornelis_anthonisz_vogelvluchtkaart_amsterdam.JPG
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More than fifty failures in the levees and flood walls protecting New Orleans led to extensive flooding after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Link text : Navy‐FloodedNewOrleans | by Jeremy L. Grisham—U.S. Navy.
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Cunard‐line Cruise ship towering over historical Venice. Editorial Stock Photo: Cruise ship in Venice ID 17080333. © June Cairns | Dreamstime.com. From Dreamstime, Cunard in front of venice. © Airn | Dreamstime.com—Cruise Ship In Venice Photo.
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View of the HafenCity Hamburg with a cruise ship and the working port visible across the river Elbe. Copyright: Carola Hein.
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The Skyline of Baltimore Waterfront: Inner Harbor and sport field from Federal Hill, 2006. © Aneese | Dreamstime.com—Baltimore Inner Harbor Photo.
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The Altenwerder Church, the only reminder of the historic village replaced by the container port expansion. Photo: Jolan Dhuique‐Hein.
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HHLA Container terminal. Handling a container ship at the Altenwerder terminal (CTA) Photo: HHLA. http://hhla.de/en/photos‐films/picture‐galleries/container/detail.html?tx_otoldnewgallery_pi1%5BshowUid%5D=1393&cHash=5aa4155b082e46f03c6dd311609034fc
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The transformation of the Rotterdam port during the oil revolution, 1862, 1882, 1930, 1936, 1950, 1964, 1972, 2015. Source: Oil and the Rotterdam Port | By Carola Hein/Bernard Colenbrander/Alexander Koutamanis | CC BY NC SA 4.0.
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