I came across this older photo taken along the Rhine River in Speyer, Germany when I was looking for adequate photos to inflict on others. You can see my shadow in the lower right of the photo because I am, of course, the best photographer ever.
This is a good indication of what people will put up with in order to live in proximity to a river. And, even though this is Germany, the houses are fairly new and modern. The photo was taken in the town of Speyer, which goes back to the Middle Ages. The Rhine is transformed by physical engineering--the bank is bricked up or paved, the level of the river is controlled, and the extensive system of docks and causeways allows people to keep their boats secured without actually touching the shore.
The whole thing has a sort of over-industrialized nightmare element to it, but, really, these people just want to live by a river that doesn't flood them out of their homes and destroy their town.