Running the length of Quay Street is a historic seawall that has retained and protected land reclaimed over 100 years ago to form downtown Auckland.
In the 1800s, Fort Street (originally called Fore St) ran alongside the beach. Between 1850 – 1880 more land was reclaimed to extend downtown Auckland, creating Customs St, Commercial Bay, and Quay Street where the foreshore is now. Between 1880 – 1925 a seawall was created to protect this new downtown space and what had quickly become the country’s largest commercial centre.
Over the past year, strengthening of a 600-metre section of the seawall has been underway; the first significant strengthening work to be done to the seawall since it was completed in 1925. This project is part of a wider programme of work to transform downtown, creating a welcoming and people-centred gateway into our city.
While the seawall works have been highly visible with some impressive construction equipment, the seawall itself is largely unseen and unassuming, but should not be underestimated.
Watch the above video of the construction of the palisade wall between Queens Wharf and Marsden Wharf that was completed earlier this year.
Auckland Councillor Pippa Coom says strengthening the seawall is essential to building a resilient city able to withstand earthquakes of 6.5 magnitude, storm surges, and rising sea levels of one metre over the next 100 years.
“The Downtown Programme is one of the largest urban transformation projects to be undertaken in Auckland, requiring the coordination of multiple, related projects and deadlines.
“The strengthened seawall is the foundation upon which all the other Downtown projects depend,” she says.
Councillor Coom is encouraged by how work is progressing with the project hitting some critical milestones and full completion expected early 2021. Earlier this year, the section between Queens and Marsden wharves was completed and recently, the Princes Wharf section was finished - making room for street enhancement works to get underway.
Cr Coom says the Downtown programme is inextricably linked with other transformational projects that are all contributing to improved social, environmental and economic benefits for the City Centre.
“Commercial Bay will ultimately see 10,000 workers coming into the area when the City Rail Link opens in 2024, pedestrian traffic at Britomart will double, and there are over 30,000 people living in the City Centre.”
Supporting all this is a strengthened seawall ready to protect the city for another century.