The Tampa Riverwalk: 40 years from start to finish
A brief walking tour of one of Florida's most recent significant public waterfront investments: The Tampa Riverwalk
What is the Riverwalk? The Tampa Riverwalk consists of a waterside walkway stretching 2.6 miles along the banks of the Hillsborough River and shores of Tampa Bay, offering a unique pedestrian path that links parks, museums, cultural and convention facilities downtown. The Riverwalk provides a safe and healthy venue for biking, walking, and rollerblading as well as a needed impetus for other transportation means such as a water taxi. Drawing great numbers of locals and tourists to the downtown core, it is an economic catalyst providing the entrepreneurial spark for retail, restaurants, hotels and other services found around a thriving venue of this type. Encouraging greater use of the river, the Riverwalk is increasing the number of boat docks allowing additional means to access downtown waterfront amenities. Promoting environmental stewardship, the project is focused on restoring deteriorating seawalls to natural habitat and constructing filtering devices for pollutants flowing from downtown streets. By “opening the river to the people,” The Tampa Riverwalk allows the community to enjoy one of its greatest assets – the waterfront.
The Tampa Riverwalk Development Timeline
1975 - Riverwalk project conceived by Mayor Bill Poe in 1975 as a bi-centennial event
1976 - Waterfront walkway of wooden planks installed in the Curtis Hixon Park area
1989 - CNBC Plaza (Rivergate Tower) and ramp constructed
1989 - Wooden planks replaced with granite pavers
2000 - Marriott Waterside Hotel opened
2003 - Cotanchobee Ft Brooke Park opened
2005 - MacDill Park opened
2006 - Phase I Master Plan completed
2006 - USF Park opened
2008 - Platt Street Bridge Underpass opened
2009 - Tampa Convention Center, Cotanchobee/Ft Brooke Park extension, South Plaza completed
2010 - Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park opened; Cass Street crosswalk enhancement completed
2012/13 - Brorein Street Underpass, Brownstone, CapTrust and TCC connector completed
2014 - Water Works Park completed
2015 - Kennedy Boulevard Plaza - 1460 feet over water completed – Funded by TIGER Grant
2016 - Straz Center to Water Works Park - Funded by TIGER Grant
Why is the Riverwalk a City priority? Our waterways comprise a key community asset that we should capitalize on. The Riverwalk is an opportunity to open the waterfront to all by providing a wonderful venue to enjoy events or a peaceful stroll to sooth the soul. The walkway links various destinations along the river and is a catalyst for economic development and tourism. Additionally, the project plays a large role in restoring natural shoreline and filtering stormwater from the city streets. This project is one of the keys to revitalizing downtown Tampa as an enjoyable place to live, learn, work and play. Additionally, the Riverwalk is part of Mayor Buckhorn’s vision to make the river the center of downtown connected to all the surrounding neighborhoods.
How long is the planned walkway? Will it be continuous or cross busy streets? The walkway currently stretches 2.6 miles from North Boulevard Bridge (near Blake High School) down the Hillsborough River along Garrison Channel to the Channelside District. The Riverwalk avoids crossing busy city streets by passing under all of the 10 bridges along the walkway, with the exception of the Cass Street/CSX RR Bridge.
What is the Historical Monument Trail on the Riverwalk? Nestled along Tampa’s Riverwalk, the Historical Monument Trail of beautiful bronze and marble busts and monuments tell the story of noteworthy people that have shaped the history of Tampa and Hillsborough County. It is an educational tool for all ages; a commemoration of our ancestors that have contributed so much to our life and culture today; and an inspiration to our entire community. As of January 2015, there are 18 monuments in place along the walkway. Learn more about the trail at www.thetampariverwalk.com/historical-monument-trail.aspx.