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The New Directions Initiative
Cities and Rivers Workshop





THE NEVA RIVER defines and is defined by the great city of St. Petersburg. From the moment Peter the Great founded a city on the river's delta in 1703, he began overseeing a substantial alteration in the shape and outlines of the river. Lines were steaightened, canals were dug, islands formed, others disappeared, and the formerly irregular and swampy shores of the river crystallized into a magnificent, modern city. Frequent and sometimes catastrophic flooding shapes the city's self-image as well as most urban planning decisions.

ST. PETERSBURG, in turn, takes its shape from the river. Embankments and canals define the geometry of the city, bridges channel its traffic, and the huge expanse of the Neva dominates the landscape. Mansions and palaces face the water -- by order of the Tsar -- and create a powerful facade for the city that is only visible from the river. The river serves as a source of drinking water and navigation as well as for sewage removal, so it is an integral part of everyone's daily life in the city, and its water quality helps determine their quality of life.

Further topics and interdisciplinary essays
Peter the Great and the Neva River Delta
Land and Sea in the Russian Traditional World View
Floods on the Neva River
The Neva Embankments: Hydrology and Aesthetics
Society and River Environment
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