When does contrived become real?


This is the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  80 years ago planners there had the idea to turn the gigantic storm sewer channel that ran through the heart of the city into an oasis.  Today, it is one of the most visited spots in Texas.  Yet it is totally fake, in that there was nothing resembling this prior to the development of the area all that time ago.   No one seems to care.  People are drawn to water, greenery, and enclosing urban space.

So now it is a part of the culture of the city and no one could imagine life there without it.  Should we care that this area is no more real an urban space than Disney World? Is it important that the Riverwalk had no impact whatsoever on the development of the rest of the city, which is as bleak as anywhere in the world?  Successful urban design has to be authentic and places must both relate to their surroundings as well as influence them.  Riverwalk does neither. As such it is ultimately hollow.

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