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Published: Saturday, September 8, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Cities fill void by creating ‘urban beaches’

  • Strandbar Mitte was the first "beach bar" in Berlin.

    Bernd Schonberger

    Strandbar Mitte was the first "beach bar" in Berlin.

If you are fortunate enough to live near the beach, it's difficult to imagine living in a place without sand and sunbathing nearby. However, in some parts of the world, ocean beaches may be hours by train, or even by flight, away from the city.
With this in mind, an increasing number of cities are creating or allowing "urban beaches:" manmade beaches with sand shipped in for the summer months. For city-bound travelers who don't want to sacrifice their tans, the members and editors at have picked the "Top Five Urban Beaches."
Paris, France: It's not surprising that the culture that gave us the bikini would be the first to figure out how to bring the beach to their fabulous city.
The original "plage urbaine," the Paris Plage began in 2002, with the French converting the Seine's banks into pedestrian areas as well as sandy sunbathing spots.
The plages spread from the Louvre to the Pont de Sully on Voie Georges Pompidou, along the Seine River, and at Port de la Gare and Bassin de la Villette.
Berlin, Germany: The term widely used in Berlin is "beach bar," and they've been popping up along the Spree River since 2002. While these are not necessarily city-created urban beaches, we can't discount them as part of the phenomena, especially since there are almost 30 of them in the summer.
The first documented "beach bar" was Strandbar Mitte. Another popular spot is Oststrand, the city's largest urban beach, where visitors also can relax on the deck of an anchored ship along the river bank.
Copenhagen, Denmark: The Danish design denizens of Copenhagen created an urban beach that strikingly arises from the water and contains no sand.
Havnebadet, or Harbor Bath, at Islands Brygge is a riverside swimming complex, with five pools, two specifically for children, and two diving towers. Across the canal, a similar harbor bath exists at Fisketorvet.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Rue Quai de l'Horloge is complete with sand, brightly colored beach umbrellas and chairs, as well as a traditional wooden boardwalk and refreshment stand.
Unfortunately, no swimming is allowed, since the currents off the quay are too strong, but the locale is great for tanning and enjoying the lovely views of Old Montreal and the nearby islands.
New York, N.Y.: While it seems a bit crazy for New Yorkers to build urban beaches when they are within a few hours of some of the most beautiful beaches on the Eastern Seaboard, a few afternoons spent on the Long Island Expressway barely moving and we'd look into some local options, too.
Formerly known as Water Taxi Beach, the venue now goes by Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club and is located at the South Street Seaport, near the Financial District of Manhattan.
In addition to having sand, great views of the Brooklyn Bridge, and fire pits, the spot also serves as a concert venue.
The Frying Pan, a former "lightship" docked on Pier 66 Maritime on the west side of Manhattan offers booze and burgers and unparalleled views of the Hudson River.
© 2012, Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.
Story tags » Travel

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