Engaging Riverfronts

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Cincinnati’s riverfront park with swings

There is a proposal in Pittsburgh to introduce a new feature to its riverfronts: swings.  I am excited about this possibility as a swing lover and as someone who wants to see more welcoming and engaging spaces along Pittsburgh’s rivers.  One of the inspirations for this idea are swings found in Cincinnati’s riverfront park.  Last summer, I happened upon that park in a search for bridges by Roebling.  On an ordinary summer evening, this enormous riverfront park was filled with people of all ages enjoying the various activities from walking paths to playgrounds to interactive art installations.

Previously, when walking around Istanbul, I experienced jealousy at seeing the number of parks with adult exercise equipment installed.  This sort of acknowledgement that adults enjoy playing outdoors as much as children seemed lacking in parks across the United States.  Cincinnati’s park showed me that inviting adults to play outside is embraced in some parts of our country.

Pittsburgh has kayak and bike rentals for adults to play outside.  The walking trails, Fountain at the Point, and Watersteps attract people to enjoy the outdoors and the rivers.  However, if this swing proposal pans out, Pittsburgh may move up into the next tier of engaging outdoor spaces with the introduction of free play equipment for adults on par with Cincinnati and Istanbul.

In Search of Roebling

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Last summer’s search for Roebling bridges (see Market St, Steubenville and Wheeling Suspension Bridge) came to a successful end as a golden sunset spread over Cincinnati.  The reason we struck out earlier in the day is that the Cincinnati-Covington Bridge is one of the two remaining Roebling suspension bridges.  The other is, of course, his most famous bridge: the Brooklyn Bridge.  The first of Roebling’s five suspension bridges was built in Pittsburgh at the site of the current Smithfield Street Bridge, but lasted less than 40 years before the increased river and road traffic made it obsolete.

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Between Roebling’s two remaining bridges, I found the Cincinnati bridge more appealing.  Its character feels like it would fit right in on the Thames in London.  I also appreciated the engaging green spaces at either end.  The birds liked this bridge, too.

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Sunset from the Roebling Bridge