A waterfront esplanade complete with picnic areas, seating, and recreational pavilions are among the many new features that will renovate the two-mile stretch along the East River. Funded by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), the riverside redevelopment project will create a virtually continuous greenway between Battery Park and East River Park, half the size of Central Park.
To visit the Department of City Planning’s comprehensive project website, click here, including its complete Concept Plan. Additional project information from the city Economic Development Corporation is available here.
By replacing the waterfront’s utilitarian concrete slabs with a playground, bikeway/walkway, and several planted seating areas, the “dramatic transformation” of the waterfront will also succeed in “reconnecting the diverse communities of the Financial District, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side to the East River waterfront,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
According to the plans, which were developed by the New York City Department of City Planning, infrastructure will be rehabilitated, pedestrian areas will be repaved, and the piers themselves will offer new waterfront amenities -- including “get downs” that serve as combined steps/seating linking the esplanade to the water’s edge.
Several other agencies were key partners in the project: the Economic Development Corporation, Department of Transportation, and Department of Parks and Recreation. Other groups that contributed to the final designs spanned urban designers, landscape architects, maritime experts, and engineers, as well as local businesses, tenant associations, elected officials, state agencies, and civic groups.
Community input was a vital part of this project’s planning process. As such, the design team, led by Lower Manhattan–based SHoP Architects, worked closely with local communities from 2002 to 2006, culling feedback that helped shape the new waterfront vision.
Another essential part of the planning phase was a year-long study that launched in mid-2004. It explored ways to enhance waterfront access, create new active and passive recreational opportunities, complete missing links in the Manhattan greenway, and provide a framework that sustains growth.
With planning and design documents now complete and $137 million in LMDC funding secured, the first phase of the downtown East River Waterfront project will begin in spring 2009 -- revamping the area between Wall and John Streets through late 2010.
The first section will serve as a pilot for the following project segments, which begin at the Battery Maritime Building to the south, up to Pier 35 (Rutgers Slip) at the north. It will bring a new waterfront walkway lined with seating and plantings, along with new railings and enhanced lighting, especially beneath the FDR Drive.
The East River Waterfront Plan focuses on the following components:
- The Esplanade: The new esplanade will consist of a recreation zone along the water’s edge with seating and plantings, pavilions under the FDR Drive to support outdoor activities, and a bikeway along South Street that ties into the Manhattan Greenway. A system of consistent paving, seating, railings, and lighting will be used throughout.
- Pavilions and “get-downs”: New, proposed pavilions will help reconnect the city to the river’s edge, creating concentrated areas for recreation where it is most appropriate. At Peck Slip and Rutgers Slip, the new esplanade design will mark historic locations by carving steps into the bulkhead line -- creating means to “get down” to the water.
- Archipelago: In order to provide a continuous greenway between Battery Park and the new East River Waterfront, the path between the Battery Maritime Building and Old Slip will be extended over the existing shoreline, creating a walkway out over the water with a singular view back at the city.
- Pier 15: The proposed pier will lift its primary recreation area to a second tier, offering new and intimate views of the tall, historic ships that could be docked in this location.
- Pier 35: This large pier will be opened to the public with a second tier that will function like an amphitheater for outward viewing towards the city, the waterfront, Governor’s Island, and Brooklyn.
- Sustainability: In keeping with the City’s PlaNYC initiatives, the East River Waterfront project will seek LEED certification for its pavilions and park uses. Plans aim to reduce energy demand and consumption, conserve natural resources, improve air quality, and catch and reuse rainwater water.
Images courtesy of SHoP Architects for the City of New York.