Mesopotamia, the “land between the rivers” is an obvious place for a civilization because it is located near two sources of water: the Tigris River and the Euphrates River. Ancient Egypt developed along the Nile River. Most people live near water. If you look at any large city, you’ll probably find water nearby. People need the water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and transportation.

Many cities formed where freshwater rivers meet the ocean. New York City is located where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean. In America, New York City has a harbor. A harbor is a place where ships can seek shelter from stormy weather. Chicago grew alongside the point where the Chicago River flows into Lake Michigan. The point where two rivers meet is known as a confluence. St. Louis, Missouri is situated near the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers.

New York CIty


New York City is located at the point where the Hudson River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

A few cities are not near a significant source of water. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Tehran, Iran once had sources of water that no longer exist. Johannesburg, South Africa developed after the discovery of gold in 1886. The Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, Georgia is not a significant source of water. Atlanta developed as a trading city because it was the point where two railroads met. Modern technology has made it possible to bring water to very dry places, but for most of history, it was necessary for a city to be near a source of water.


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Listen as Mr. Dowling reads this lesson.

Mr. Donn has an excellent website that includes a section on Mesopotamia.

Lakeshore Drive in Chicago


Some of the most expensive real estate in Chicago along Lakeshore Drive, where the city borders Lake Michigan.

Top ten most populated world cities and the nearest body of water

Tokyo, Japan Arakawa River
Tama River
Pacific Ocean
Seoul, South Korea Han River
Mexico City, Mexico Lake Texcoco
Mumbai, India Ulhas River
Indian Ocean
Jakarta, Indonesia Ciliwung River
Pacific Ocean
São Paulo, Brazil Tietê River
Pinheiros River
Atlantic Ocean
Delhi, India Yamuna River
Osaka, Japan Yodo River
Pacific Ocean
Shanghai, China Yangtze River
Pacific Ocean
Manila, Philippines Pasig River
Pacific Ocean

Top ten most populated cities in the United States and the nearest body of water

New York, New York Hudson River
Atlantic Ocean
Los Angeles, California Los Angeles River
Pacific Ocean
Chicago, Illinois Chicago River
Lake Michigan
Dallas, Texas Trinity River
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Delaware River
Houston, Texas Buffalo Bayou
Washington, D.C. Potomac River
Atlantic Ocean
Miami, Florida Atlantic Ocean
Atlanta, Georgia Chattahoochee River
Boston, Massachusetts Charles River
Atlantic Ocean
The fountain in Point State Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


The fountain in Point State Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania marks the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. The waters of the Allegheny and Monongahela form the Ohio River.