Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Day 97: Waterways of Non-Coastal Cities

Having grown up on the East Coast with easy and frequent access to the nearby beaches and Atlantic Ocean, I'm very fond of living near water and not feeling completely land-locked.  Every city in which I've lived has had natural waterways of some kind (with the exception of Las Vegas), even though they are all non-coastal cities:  Portland, OR; Madison, WI; Sacramento, CA.

There's something about being near water that appeals to me, just to have that sense of openness and flow and rhythm.  Sacramento is criss-crossed by the Sacramento River and the American River, and our townhouse in downtown Sac is just six blocks from the Sacramento River.

During our decade in Sac, we've seen improved development and activation of the riverfront, although quite a bit of it remains relatively industrial and not very accessible to residents and visitors.  And unfortunately, the I-5 freeway cuts off the bulk of downtown Sac from easy access to the River, similar to how the Central Artery in Boston used to be a barrier between neighborhoods until the Big Dig project was completed in the 2000s.

I don't think that Sac will ever cover over the freeway to create a better pedestrian connection to the entire riverfront area, but at least we are seeing some positive movement on the urban development front to incorporate better river access and livability.

Mr. E and I took an architectural boat tour of the Chicago River this afternoon, which we've done several times before, and we both noticed new buildings and learned about new developments in the works along the shoreline.  Chicago's riverfront also started as largely industrial and has only gradually become more residential and enjoyable as the City has taken active strides to make it a true asset for overall quality of life, including major efforts to clean up the River with the end goal of having it be clean enough for swimming.

It's helpful and hopeful to hear about the history of the waterways of other non-coastal cities and to remember that it takes time to shift priorities and perceptions of how we treasure, protect, and enjoy our inland waterways.


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