On the waterfront itself

The bluff has been carved back to make room for a riverfront park by moving a road back.

After leaving the waterfall, the Cocheco River makes a sharp loop around the Washington Mill. Henry Law Park borders part of that sweep, but its public frontage is about to become three times longer.

Environmental cleanup of the river itself gave the city one more reason to move the public works department’s yard, which was around the bend, to another site, opening a choice piece of real estate at the Knuckle, where the river turns again. A marina sits on the opposite bank. Get the idea? You can sail to the ocean from here.

However, until the Tommy Makem traffic bridge was built a few years ago (any Irish music fans reading this?), the site was pretty isolated, connected by a narrow lane at the foot of a wooded bluff. The new bridge has allowed a bypass around a stretch of busy Central Avenue, but the sidewalk along the river feels pinched. That’s about to change.

The bluff has been removed. Yup. It’s been carved away to allow the street to be moved back away from the river to make room for a more pedestrian-friendly Waterfront Park at Dover Landing. Think of casually strolling or walking your dog or taking a stroller and a toddler for a walk. Maybe even just going out to sit with a book or catch a few rays on a blanket.

At the far end, down by the Knuckle, a mostly residential development will go in – behind the end of the new riverfront park. Say hi to your neighbors, that kind of thing.

The project has an additional touch. Our 29-acre Maglaras Park sits atop the slope, but getting there has required a circuitous route. That will change with the extension of Washington Street, directly linking that park to the waterfront and downtown across the river.

It will all redefine the city. Think what Central Park is for Manhattan or, closer to us, Piscataqua Park is for Portsmouth.

I’m impressed. What does your location have to offer?

Washington Street passes between two large mill buildings on its way to the new park. The stone building, upper center, is on Lower Square, where the Foster’s Place and Orpheum are rising.

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