The Waterfront Inspiration: Tom McCall Waterfront Park
By | Erica Line
The plan for this park came at the turn of the century when the 1903 Olmsted Report pointed out the need not only for parks within the city, but for a greenway scheme for the riverbanks in order to ensure their preservation for future generations. The 1912 Bennett Plan again showed a need for more parks and river greenways, but instead of reorienting itself to the river, the city’s focus was pulled further inland. In the late 1920s, the seawall was built along the Willamette’s west bank for the protection of downtown from the annual floods. The seawall not only cut off the water from the people, but the people from the water as well. The construction of Harbor Drive along the west bank in the 1940s continued the trend of isolating the public from the river.
The Waterfront is involved in a very similar situation. The Lehigh River, though a beautiful asset for Allentown to have, has been isolated from the rest of the city and the surrounding areas. The goal of The Waterfront Development Company is to bridge that geographical gap and provide a placemaking community environment that will bring the Lehigh Valley together creating a flourishing River District.