Revitalizing Post-Industrial Cities: A Sustainable Approach through Eco-Cultural Tourism in West Virginia

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Virginia Tech


This thesis explores the transformative potential of eco-cultural tourism in revitalizing post-industrial cities, with a focus on the network of towns along the Ohio River in West Virginia. The research seeks to understand the multifaceted impacts of tourism on urban development, social infrastructure, and economic growth in small towns.

The core concept is to create a tapestry of connectivity along the river, celebrating the region's natural beauty and promoting shared experiences and community cohesion. The proposed initiative envisions a Master Plan featuring a well-integrated network that connects cities along the Ohio River. This network includes walking and biking trails, ATV routes, camping areas, water activities like kayaking and motorboating, accommodations, restaurants, local shops, and a dedicated rail corridor for travel.

The proposed development primarily targets Parkersburg, a small city in Wood County, West Virginia, located at the confluence of the Ohio and Little Kanawha Rivers. The second phase of the project focuses on two critical sites within Parkersburg, essential for implementing the revitalization plan. Parkersburg is envisioned as the catalyst and starting point for the entire network, positioning it as the epicenter of urban regeneration and community development.

Overall, the thesis investigates the potential benefits and challenges of implementing a comprehensive tourism-driven urban revitalization strategy. Through an interdisciplinary approach to planning and design, it examines the ecological, cultural, tourism, and environmental impacts on development, envisioning a sustainable future where West Virginia's post-industrial cities prosper as interconnected nodes.



Revitalization, community unity, urban regeneration, environmental sustainability, cultural enrichment, tourism development, social infrastructure, economic growth