New York City is surrounded by water with different uses and relationships with water. Here are some that I observed.
Outdoor living room Brooklyn Bridge Park
We went to see a free outdoor movie in Brooklyn Bridge Park one night and while there, I took a look around. It seems that there something for everyone and the park is basically an extension to their living rooms.
The park consists of several piers and a greenway which combines them. Like usually, this area used to be an industrial harbour until the 1980s. The first redesigned piers 1 and 6 were opened to public in 2010. The construction is still going on in the pier 5.
Each pier has a different function. There is a picnic lawn, sports fields, a sandy beach, secret hideouts under the luch vegetation, you name it. The event calendar is very impressive and offers a lot of free options. All of this is managed by the Conservancy and enabled apparently largely by volunteer work, donations and memberships.
But despite all the activities, the view is the best part of this park.
Self-organized Hudson River Greenway
Last Sunday, I wandered around Harlem trying to find a place to read a book. Behind a railway overpass and a highway underpass the Hudson shoreline was suddenly there. And I wasn’t alone – there were dozens of locals jogging, biking and hanging around, having a nice Sunday afternoon.
Families had BBQs and birthday parties along with booming reggaeton music. I found it nice that people were enjoying themselves despite the elevated Henry Hudson Parkway and its enormous junction nearby. This area is a vague no-mans-land, except that it is not, because it is very much in a proper use! Luckily the road was originally built far enough allowing the use of the waterfront.
Ecological values in Muscota Marsh
On the way to a free outdoor yoga class (the luxury!) I went to see the northernmost tip of Manhattan, Muscota Marsh park. It is a tiny wetland park that was built by Columbia University, in collaboration with the NYC parks department. It is place where freshwater of Hudson River and salty water of the sea meet. There was a rich estuary ecosystem before European arrival.
I think it is amazing to have a place like this to see a bit of the the original Manhattan nature rehabilitated. Even the name is a reminder of the history: “Muscota” is the Lenape word for “meadow by the water,” or “where the reeds grow.”
The cityscape is also interesting: the gigantic Bronx apartment buildings and Henry Hudson bridge behind the peaceful marsh and Spuyten Duyvil creek. Quite a contrast!
Industrial Red Hook, soon to be developed
There was a music-and-arts festival in Red Hook last weekend. If you ask me, this kind of an industrial environment is the only appropriate background for electronic music. The venue itself, Gowanus Bay Terminal, was very far from all the public transport, but I guess you have to be willing to walk miles to see places like this.
We could have taken a ferry to the festival though, because since 2008 there has been an Ikea that is served by a ferry from downtown. The rugged industrial area is getting a real clean-up now that the construction work of an enormous Norman Foster-designed office building on the other side of Ikea begins and the development of Fairway Market and waterfront gets going. I predict it is “bye-bye festivals” soon.
Echoes from the past in Coney Island
Last week we took an impromptu trip to Coney Island. Brighton Beach was the last stop of a subway line, far away from the city both in my mind and in reality. Russian-language signs, high residential blocks and the suddenly opening beach behind them make a peculiar mix. The amusement park was a refreshingly old-school place, like time has stopped in the early 1900s. On a weekday the beach was half-empty.
Bonus: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
Tomi admires the Central Park view.