The Hampton Roads Inter-Regional Visit to Pittsburgh continued on Thursday with a Riverboat Tour of Waterfront Development on the Gateway Clipper, narrated by Stephan Bontrager, Vice President of Communications & Outreach, Riverlife.
On board the Gateway Clipper, the group learned about the history of Riverlife. Riverlife was founded in 1999 when a group of leaders took a riverfront tour and imagined what could be. They realized the demand for riverfront development would build Pittsburgh’s economy. They built 13 miles of trails along the rivers which was an important step in reclaiming the riverfront. Kayakers, paddle boarders and other water recreation enthusiasts started coming down to the rivers.
In the 1990s, a master plan was created for the connected trails. The riverfront is a patchwork quilt of private property owners. Currently, Riverlife is working on legislation to update zoning laws to provide incentives to property owners to provide public access and amenities.
The health of these rivers has been rejuvenated due to riverfront development projects. Biodensity of these rivers has come back strong.
Today, PNC Park and Heinz Field can be seen along the river. Next to Heinz Field stands a Mr. Rogers statue as a “Tribute to Children,” honoring children and celebrating the enduring values of Fred Rogers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” These attractions, including others along the riverfront, have made the area into a safe place for locals and tourists. Before, residents of Allegheny County found the riverfront unsafe and undesirable. In fact they even built the he Allegheny County along the Monongahela River.
The Riverfront Tour showed progress in all stages, including the site for the proposed Amazon HQ2. It is clear that Riverlife has made Pittsburgh’s riverfronts safer, cleaner and more fun for everyone.