Seoul Greenway: Revitalizing the Cheonggyecheon

Seoul dismantles an old highway and revives a stream, the city, and local spirit, proving how mobility is not about raising roads but raising quality of life.


The Cheonggyecheon stream revitalization project in downtown Seoul is a triumph of urban renewal. The heart of the city is now a green waterfront park complemented with improved public transport, giving citizens with a better way of life.

Prior to restoration, Cheonggyecheon was a dilapidated roadway and expressway with more than 168,000 cars passing every single day. But instead of investing millions of dollars to upgrade this congestion-inducing and pollution-producing behemoth, the city government—in a landmark decision—opted to demolish it.

Then Mayor Lee Myung-bak, who eventually became the President of the Republic of Korea, led the project. Said to have contributed to his political win, the restoration turned Seoul into a global metropolis with a mind for sustainability.

Project snapshot

  • July 2003: Highway demolition
  • September 2004: Construction
  • May 2005: Landscaping
  • June 2005: First water supply started; test phase started
  • September 2005: Test phase finalized
  • October 2005: Grand opening
  • $380 million (estimated $446 million in 2012): Government- and partner-funded
  • Financing
    • Seoul Metropolitan Government, and a few partners
  • Planning and design
    • Seoul Metropolitan Government
    • Cheo nggyecheon Restoration Centre
    • SeoAhn Total Landscape
  • Executing agency
    • Seoul Metropolitan Government
  • Others
    • Seoul Development Institute, Cheonggyecheon Restoration Citizens Committee

Continue reading

Meet the expert

   Republic of Korea, Environment, Transport, Urban development
   Last updated: May 2016



The views expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asian Development Bank, its management, its Board of Directors, or its members.

Was this article useful?


Log in or register to post comments.