Cheonggyecheon (Hangul: 청계천) is a nearly 6 km long, modern public recreation space in downtown Seoul, South Korea. The massive urban renewal project is on the site of a stream that flowed before the rapid post-war economic development required it to be covered by transportation infrastructure. The $900 million project attracted much criticism initially but opened in 2005 and is now popular among Seoul residents and tourists.
Cheonggyecheon is a 5.8 km creek flowing west to east through downtown Seoul, and then meeting Jungnangcheon, which in turn connects to the Hangang (river) and empties into the Yellow Sea. During the 1948-1960 presidency of Syngman Rhee, Cheonggyecheon was covered with concrete for roads. In 1968, during the presidency of Park Chung-hee, an elevated highway was built over it.
The stream was opened to the public in September 2005 and was lauded as a major success in urban renewal and beautification. However, there was considerable opposition from the previous mayoral administration of Goh Kun, which feared gentrification of the adjacent areas that housed many shops and small businesses in the machine trades.
The restoration work is expected to lay the basis for Seoul to become a human-oriented, environmentally-friendly city, and to cause a series of innovations in the urban planning paradigm. Creating the environment with clean water and natural habitats was the most significant achievement. Species of fish, birds, and insects have increased significantly as a result of the stream excavation. The stream helps to cool down the temperature on the nearby areas by 3.6 °C on average versus other parts of Seoul. The number of vehicles entering downtown Seoul has shown a decrease of 2.3%, with an increasing number of users of buses (by 1.4%) and subways (by 4.3% - daily average of 430,000 people) as a result of the demolition of the two high-used roads. This supposedly has a positive influence by improving the atmospheric environment in the region.
The project attempted to promote the urban economy through amplifying urban infrastructure for a competitive city within the existing business and industrial area centered on the stream. The Urban renewal project was the catalyst of revitalization in downtown Seoul. Cheonggyecheon became a centre for cultural and economic activities.
Cheonggyecheon restoration work also brought balance to the areas both in south and north of the stream. During the modernization era, downtown Seoul was divided into two parts, north-south, based on their features and function. The restoration helped to join these two parts in order to create a new urban structure connecting the cultural and environmental resources in northern and southern areas of the stream, resulting in a balanced and sustainable development of northern and southern areas of Hangang (river).
Cheonggyecheon | eTips Inc.