Cincinnati vs. St. Louis: Which Riverfront Would You Choose?

A lot has been made of the changes coming the St. Louis riverfront given the Arch grounds competition; rightfully so given the presence of Saarinen's Arch. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is truly an iconic American place. But what makes a great city riverfront and would St. Louis be better with a different design altogether?

Looking at the progress being made on Cincinnati's Central Riverfront Park, I see a more active, more inviting, more interesting place than our own Arch grounds, Laclede's Landing and Chouteau's Landing. While there are differences, the parallels provide for an interesting comparison.

Cincinnati's stadiums are on the riverfront, pulling millions of people across Ft. Washington Way and I-71, their version of St. Louis's I-70. Cincinnati has a significant museum on the waterfront, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. St. Louis has the Museum of Westward Expansion. The Eads may be a more impressive engineering feat, but the Roebling Bridge is more accessible and inviting to explore. There's a Moerlein Lager House (think Schlafly Tap Room) with an open plaza planned in Cincinnati, while the Arch grounds may see a beer garden and Cathedral Square restaurant.

There exist many similarities, but the parks themselves have different functions owing to JNEM's national memorial status. It appears to be a benefit to Cincinnati that they have more freedom to design their park. So would you choose Cincinnati's riverfront with its museum, stadiums, development and parks, or JNEM and Arch in St. Louis?


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