Hudson River Park
|Hudson River Park|
Greenwich Village section
|Location||Between Battery Place and West 59th Street
West Side, Manhattan, New York City
|Area||550 acres (220 ha)|
|Opened||July 23, 1998|
|Operated by||State of New York
City of New York
Hudson River Park Trust
|Visitors||17 million (in 2015)|
|Hiking trails||4 miles (6.4 km)|
Hudson River Park is a waterside park on the North River (Hudson River), and is the part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway that extends from 59th Street south to Battery Park in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is a joint state and city collaboration. It is a 550-acre (2.2 km2) park stretching 4.5 miles (7.2 km), making it the second-biggest park in Manhattan after Central Park. The park arose as part of the West Side Highway replacement project in the wake of the abandoned Westway plan.
Bicycle and pedestrian paths, spanning the park north to south, open up the waterfront for recreational use. The park includes tennis and soccer fields, batting cages, children's playground, dog run, and many other features. The parkland also incorporates several rebuilt North River piers along its length, formerly used for shipping.
Hudson River Park connects many other recreational sites and landmarks. It runs through the Manhattan neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan (including Battery Park City, World Trade Center, and Tribeca), Greenwich Village (including the West Village and Meatpacking District), Chelsea, and Midtown West (which includes Hudson Yards and Hell's Kitchen/Clinton).
Prior to American colonization of New Netherland, Native Americans lived on the shore of the southernmost portion of the Hudson River—where the park now is—seasonally, in a place called "Sapohanikan". It was near the present-day intersection of Gansevoort Street and Washington Street. It was probably a hunting and fishing site, and Native Americans probably used the oyster reefs on the shore as well; after European settlement, the Europeans began using these reefs.
Later, oyster barges, which sold high volumes of oysters, opened along the Hudson River shore, within several North River piers. Because of their quantity, they were often sold at cheap prices, and immigrants to New York City often relied on eating oysters. These oyster barges closed when the oysters died due to overfarming and to pollution resulting from the shore's industrialization.
In 1807, the first steamboat in passenger operation, Clermont, was launched from present-day Pier 45, in the West Village. The Clermont, the first successful boat of its kind in the United States, helped give Robert Fulton control over all steamboat operations on the rest of the Hudson River. The English White Star Line, consisting of the Lusitania, the Olympic, and the Titanic, had a terminal at Pier 54. It was at this location where survivors of the sinking of the Titanic arrived in the Carpathia.
By the late 19th century, the Slaughterhouse District was created along the Hudson River shoreline in present-day Hell's Kitchen. A stretch of 39th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues was called Abattoir Place until the early 20th century. In the 1870s, tunnels to herd cattle under 12th Avenue were created at 34th and 38th Streets. The cattle industry in this area continued through the 1960s.
Conception and construction
What is now Hudson River Park emerged from the failed 1970s and 1980s redevelopment of the dilapidated West Side Highway known as the Westway, which would have upgraded it to Interstate Highway standards as part of an extended I-78. The right-of-way of the new six-lane highway would have demolished the existing West Side piers and replaced it with 220 acres of landfill, which would be tunneled through to create the new highway. In addition to 100 acres of development, the plan also had provisions for 98 acres of continuous parkland to be laid on top of the highway, including four waterside parks and a three-mile-long tree-lined promenade and bike path on the waterfront. Around 90% of the funds for the project were to come from federal aid. The project was abandoned on September 19, 1985 due to political as well as environmental objections, particularly concerns over spending in Congress as well as concerns over the Hudson River striped bass habitat by the courts. Much of the estimated $2 billion in federal funds allocated for the Westway was diverted to mass transit.
A new plan for development was announced in 1992 by then-Governor Mario Cuomo and then-Mayor David Dinkins, targeting the Jacob Javits Center, Chelsea Piers, and Pier 40 as key locations for commercial development. The 1992 memorandum also created the Hudson River Park Corporation, later renamed the Hudson River Park Conservancy, as a government agency constituted of members appointed by the governor and mayor. Construction of the Chelsea Piers complex began in July 1994, opening in stages beginning in May 1995. The development plan for the rest of the park was signed in September 1998 by Governor George Pataki, dividing ownership of the land between New York State (the southern half, from Battery Park to 35th Street) and the City (the northern half, from 35th Street to 59th). Both halves were leased to the joint entity now known as the Hudson River Park Trust. The plan also guaranteed that half of several locations, including Piers 40, 76, and 84, would be reserved for parkland. The park was initially expected to be completed by 2003, with construction costs estimated at around $300 million. The first complete section of the park opened in 2003 in Greenwich Village.
After two decades of planning and construction, much of the park remains incomplete. Half of the park was complete by 2009, and as of 2015 70 percent of the park has been finished, at a cost of nearly $500 million.
Parts of the Hudson River Park remained without power in the months after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, due to damaged electrical cables. As a result, the Hudson River Park temporarily limited hours after nightfall in the park. Before Hurricane Sandy, the park's paths alongside the river remained open until 1 am EDT. After Hurricane Sandy, the park worked to return to normal operating hours once they restored power to affected areas. Full power was restored in June 2014, 20 months after the storm, with total damages accumulating to $32 million.
By June 2013, the Hudson River Park trust was in debt. A bill passed in June 2013 ended maintenance of a section of the park in Battery Park City, as well as the purchase of liability insurance, which would give $750,000 in savings to the park. However, the park was to run a $8.5 million deficit for fiscal year 2014. To further ameliorate the debt, the bill provided for the trust to make passengers pay to board sightseeing cruise ships in the park. Finally, the bill allowed the park to sell air rights across the street from the park, specifically St. John's Terminal across from Pier 40, and because of the resulting devaluation of inland properties, developer Douglas Durst pulled funding for a neighborhood improvement district on the West Side. In addition, Pier 40, which would have garnered large profits for the park, would cost more than $100 million to renovate.
Recreational facilities of many kinds are located throughout Hudson River Park, catering to organized and individual sports, leisure activities, and activities for children. A defining physical feature of Hudson River Park is the 5 miles (8.0 km) bike and running path that runs the park’s length, connecting northward to Riverside South north of 59th Street and southward to Battery Park. Constructed by the State Department of Transportation, it is "the busiest bikeway in America" according to the Park Trust.
Scattered throughout the park are numerous fields and courts, with Chelsea Waterside Park (bounded by 24th Street, 11th Avenue, and 12th Avenue) being one center of sports activity. The park contains a sports field, a basketball court, a playground with water features during the summer months, and a dog run named “Best of New York” by New York Magazine in May 2005. Pier 84 at West 44th Street is also packed with activities. Free fishing with Big City Fishing is available on the pier as well as rowing, boat building, and other maritime related activities, including a water taxi stop. Also on the pier are a dog run and playground, and the casual restaurant PD O’Hurleys. Other sporting facilities include basketball courts at Canal Street and at Harrison Street, tennis courts south of Pier 40 between Houston and Canal Streets, beach volleyball, and a California-style skate park at West 30th Street.
The largest sporting complex in Hudson River Park is the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex, which holds a variety of athletic spaces. Chelsea Piers sports a batting cage, bowling lanes, playing fields, a driving range, an ice skating rink, rock climbing facilities, and gymnastics space, among other exercise and fitness related spaces. Along with these indoor recreational facilities, Chelsea Piers offers boating activities and several restaurants on premises.
Hudson River Park offers opportunities for outrigger canoeing on Pier 66 at West 26th Street, rowing and sailing on Piers 40 and 66, and free kayaking on Piers 96, 84, 66, and 40. The free kayaking attraction, run by New York City-based nonprofit organizations and volunteers, allows visitors to kayak along the Hudson River. The kayaking attraction, which are open five days a week including Saturdays and Sundays, serve as an affordable activity for tourists and resident New Yorkers alike, provided that the kayakers sign waivers and wear life vests.
Abundant open grassy areas in the park permit non-athletic leisure activity. Suntanning is a popular pastime in many areas. Clinton Cove (55th Street), Pier 84 (44th Street), the 14th Street Park, and Pier 45 are all wide unobstructed green spaces for sunbathing, and are popular locations.
Points of interest along the park's route include:
- Battery Park at its south end
- Battery Park City
- The World Trade Center and surroundings
- Brookfield Place and Winter Garden
- Chelsea Piers
- Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
- Riverside Park at its north end
- Pier 25 is a sports and docking facility at the foot of North Moore Street and part of Hudson River Park.
- Pier 40, at 353 West Street, is home to the New York Knights of the American National Rugby League, and the primary offices of the Hudson River Park Trust. Built as a terminal for the Holland America Line in 1962, it primarily serves youth and amateur sports with various playing fields, and also contains a commercial parking lot with long-term parking spaces. The Trapeze School of New York is also located here. According to the Hudson River Park Trust, the facility generates $6 million in operating revenue and 40% of the entire park's annual operating budget.
- The term "Christopher Street Pier" usually refers specifically to Pier 45 opposite West 10th Street in Greenwich Village. However, it refers to three other piers as well, between Piers 42–51.
- Pier 51 houses a water-themed playground, part of Hudson River Park.
- At the site of Pier 54 (shutdown in 2011), plans arose in November 2014 for a new park designed by Heatherwick Studio, with estimates of the 2.3 acres (0.93 ha) park between $130 million and $160 million. Major backers include Barry Diller and Diane von Fürstenberg's joint foundation, which contributed $100 million to the project with plans to give up to $130 million. The city and state vowed to give $17 million and $18 million, respectively. The park, a partnership between Diller and von Furstenberg's foundation, the city and state, and Hudson River Park Trust, would float completely above the water. If the project is approved, construction would begin in 2015 and end in 2018 or 2019. The project is provisionally known as Pier 55, and would be built between the sites of Pier 54 and 56.
- Pier 57, at 15th Street and 11th Avenue, formerly served as a terminal for shipping and storage of cargo for the Grace Line. Between 1969 and 2003, Pier 57 housed the Hudson Pier Bus Depot for the New York City Transit Authority. Since then, it has been designated for commercial development, although it is incomplete as of 2015. During the 2004 Republican National Convention protests, the New York City Police Department used Pier 57 as a makeshift jail to hold people arrested during protests related to the convention. The holding pens were dubbed "Guantanamo on the Hudson" by activists and in the media. Various lawsuits were filed against the city related to conditions at the site and allegedly illegal arrests, including those of bystanders. Plans created in 2009 call for an improved pier design for commercial use, dubbed the SuperPier. The developer's current estimates project a 2015 re-opening for the site.
- Piers 59–62 are used as Chelsea Piers, which were originally a passenger ship terminal in the early 1900s that was used by the RMS Lusitania and was the destination of the RMS Titanic. The piers are currently used by the Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex. After the collapse of the World Trade Towers due to the September 11 attacks, EMS triage centers were quickly relocated and consolidated at the Chelsea Piers and the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal.
- Pier 63 was originally located near 23rd Street, adjacent to Chelsea Piers and Hudson River Park. It had been purchased from a used car salesman in Staten Island by John Krevey in October 1996 and delivered by a tugboat. It formerly carried railroad boxcars across the Hudson River before the advent of containerized freight or tunnels beneath the river. The land side of Pier 63 was formerly used as a freight transfer station for the Baltimore and Ohio railroad where freight was moved from the boxcars on the barges to local conveyance. It is the site of historic ships Lightship Frying Pan and Fireboat John J. Harney.
- Pier 66 is located at 26th Street and is used for sailing and paddle sports.
- Pier 79 is the West Midtown Ferry Terminal used by NY Waterway, while Pier 83 is used by Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. The two companies played a prominent role in the rescue of passengers from US Airways Flight 1549, which made an emergency water landing on the Hudson in January 2009. Pier 79 connects to a Lincoln Tunnel vent shaft.
- Pier 84 is on 12th Avenue and 44th Street. From 1981 until 1988, it served as a concert venue from the former Schaefer Music Festival. Headline acts such as The Clash, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, and Hot Tuna performed on the pier. Opened under Hudson River Park in 2006, it is the largest public pier in the park. The pier also houses a water-themed playground, part of Hudson River Park. In addition, Pier 84 is a stop for New York Water Taxi and has a bicycle rental shop and other businesses serving primarily tourists.
- Pier 86 at West 46th Street is home to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, the centerpiece of which is the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that served from World War II to the Vietnam War. This pier once served as the passenger ship terminal for the United States Lines.
- Piers 88–92 are part of the New York Passenger Ship Terminal, where a number of modern cruise ships and ocean liners dock. In 1942, the USS Lafayette (formerly SS Normandie) caught fire at Pier 88, remaining capsized there for a year.
- Pier 94 was formerly part of the Passenger Ship Terminal, and now houses the "Unconvention Center", the second-largest exhibition hall in New York City.
- Pier 97 is currently home to a live event venue, JBL at Pier 97.
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- Pier 25 | Hudson River Park
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- Chelsea Waterside Play Area | Hudson River Park
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- Pier 84 Play Area | Hudson River Park
- Pier 94 New York—The Unconvention Center
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