Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

Removing Freeways & Restoring Cities (Seoul Searching with the Cheonggyecheon River)

The Story Starts Here: Seoul, South Korea.

The Cheonggye Freeway & the Cheonggyecheon River

In the 1970s, it was considered a symbol of progress when the Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul was covered and a 6km long road and elevated freeway were built above it.  In July 2003, then Seoul mayor, current President Lee Myung-bak initiated a project to remove the elevated highway and restore the stream. It was a major undertaking as not only did the highway have to be removed, but years of neglect and development had left the stream nearly totally dry, so 120,000 tons of water have to be pumped in daily.  The stream was opened to the public in September 2005 and lauded as a major success in urban renewal and beautification.

The Cheong Gye Cheon - Before

Before the Cheonggyecheon River Renovation Project

The Cheong Gye Cheon - After

After the Cheonggyecheon River Renovation Project

Watch a film on the Cheonggyecheon Renovation Project:

Huts on the Cheonggyecheon

Refugees from the Korean War built Huts on the Chonggyechon.  In the mid 1950s, the Chonggyechon was considered a symbol of the poverty and filth that were the legacy of a half-century of colonialism and war.

Cheonggye freeway in downtown Seoul

The Chenoggye freeway ran through the center of Seoul.  The huts were removed from the banks of the stream, and their residents were forcibly relocated. In their place, modern stores and an industrial center were built there.  This redevelopment project became a symbol of the modernization and industrialization of post-war Korea.

The restored river in downtown Seoul

The restored Cheonggyecheon river flowing through the downtown Seoul… Beutiful!

Cheonggyecheon at night.

The restored Cheonggyecheon River at night.

Freeway supports in the restored river.

As a reminder for future renerations ome freeway supports were left in the restored river.  A  symbol in history, and a great move!

I think on of the downfalls of this project was that water still has to be pumped into the river and does not flow naturally.  I hope with the further development of Solar Technology, it won’t have that big of a Carbon Footprint and it can truley be a great examble of sustainable urban renewal.

P.S. The Mayor during this project and current President, Lee Myung-bak was also the President and CEO of the company that constructed the bridge initially… Hmmm…. Do people change or is it just politics through and through.   Anyhow, what a great project… Now only if North Americans whom have the largest Freeway system in the world can change their act.  We needs more Ports, Railways and Public Transit Instracture, not more Bridges and Roads…


June 15, 2009 - Posted by | Community Economic Development (CED), Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development, Videos, Water | , , , , , , , ,

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