Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning


City and Regional Planning


Vicente del Rio


The urban waterfront areas of the United States have grown increasingly neglected and derelict due to changes in traditional industrial uses and their physical severance from the downtown core. A revived interest in urban living has brought downtown property values up, including waterfront areas, and has jump-started a movement towards waterfront revitalization. In an effort to understand the specific characteristics that make some waterfront revitalization projects more sustainable over time than others, this paper employed a case study approach. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, San Francisco, and Seattle’s Central Waterfront were selected for analysis based on three specific perspectives: recreation; development; and tourism. Using criteria determined from the literature review in conjunction with key player interviews and documentary evidence, the three case study waterfronts were analyzed for their ability to sustain revitalization. The results indicate that waterfronts must provide a balance and mix of uses, assimilate with the surrounding city, provide connections between attractions and with the city and region, continuously reinvent themselves, provide attractions that draw both locals and tourists, and have a clear identity. These findings, while quite broad, are intended to provide a foundation that will be relevant to any city undertaking new waterfront revitalization projects.