Ecological Riverfront Design: Restoring Rivers, Connecting Communities

A report by Betsy Otto, Kathleen McCormick, and Michael Leccese

American Planning Association (APA) holds the copyright for this report. Please do not copy or post the files provided here without permission from APA. To purchase the full report from the American Planning Association bookstore, click here.  (Note: All links below are in PDF format)

Table of contents:

Chapter 1: A concise history of urban riverfront development


  • The history of a riverfront city
  • Early redevelopment efforts
  • What’s driving urban riverfront development today
  • Summary

Chapter 2: Urban river health


  • Urban river health in historical context
  • Components of a river ecosystem

Chapter 3: Principles for ecologically sound riverfront design


  • Tailoring the plan to the riverfront corridor and its watershed
  • Overview of ecological principles
  • General principles
  • Planning principles
  • Design principles

Chapter 4: The benefits of restoration and redevelopment


  • Financing riverfront renewal
  • The benefits of restoration and redevelopment

Chapter 5: The Chicago River: A reversal of fortunes
Chapter 6: The Willamette River: A renaissance in the making
Appendix A: More information on river ecosystems
Appendix B: List of references
Appendix C: American Planning Association policy guide on water resources management