It has come to our attention that a new development program is about to be launched in Luxor by the Government of Egypt that focuses on the east bank Corniche Boulevard. The goal is to double the width of the Corniche to alleviate traffic congestion, create a pedestrian walkway along the Nile, and establish a four-kilometer touristic zone along the riverfront between Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple. If the current plan is implemented this zone will be at the expense of most of the buildings presently along the Corniche boulevard, most of which will be demolished or cut back to accommodate the widened street. Exceptions are the Luxor Museum, which will only lose its front parking area, and the University of Chicago's headquarters in Luxor, Chicago House, which will remain where it is, but will lose its entire front garden area to the new street.
It is hoped that the Luxor City authorities will reject this unecessarily extreme plan for a less radical approach that is also being discussed.
Building the riverbank outward would allow room for a widened Corniche but still preserve the buildings and gardens presently along the Nile that give Luxor so much of its charm and character.
Slated for removal are several older gardens: one part of a military club, one in front of a mosque, and another in the front of a Coptic Catholic rest house. The historic Chicago House garden in particular would be a terrible loss. Over 75 years old, its 24-meter palm trees and dozens of trees and flowering bushes were donated as cuttings from the botanical gardens of Cairo and Aswan in the 1930s, and are unique in Luxor. Two rows of royal palms along the front walk imitate the 14 open papyrus columns of the great Colonnade Hall of Luxor Temple, and symbolize the archaeological preservation work this institution has accomplished in partnership with Egypt for over 84 years.
It may not be too late. Comments in support of a less radical plan for the Luxor Corniche can be sent to the office of Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif: