East River Greenway Coming Soon?

Published on Oct 5, 2011


All up and down the East River there are plans afoot for making the waterfront as beautiful and as accessible for residents of Manhattan's east side as west side residents have been enjoying these past years since the completion of the Hudson River Park.

And while many of the plans are still in the earliest of planning stages (e.g. the East River Greenway), the momentum has clearly turned in favor of those who believe that by opening up the access to the East River, not only will residents of east side rental apartments enjoy an immediate uplift in their quality of life, but New York City as a whole can only benefit from an investment in waterfront improvement and development.


Take the aforementioned East River Greenway project, for example, which would help connect the waterfront of the Upper East Side with the East Village and Lower East Side by developing the river's edge with parks and promenades along the 22-block, currently inaccessible stretch from 38th Street to 60th Street.

This would connect the current East River Esplanade with a new Murray Hill waterfront park being built on a pier, and the recently renovated East River Park that runs along the East Village and Lower East Side. Despite some pretty serious financial hurdles to starting, much less completing, the project, a bold plan is in the works, one which seems to have the support of the locals.

The idea, for which a "memorandum of understanding" must be signed by top officials, including Mayor Bloomberg, by October 10, calls for the city to raise the money for the East River Greenway project by not only selling two buildings on East 44th Street now being used the United Nations--known as U.N. Plaza 1 and U.N. Plaza 2--but also the 29,000-square-foot blacktop Robert Moses Playground across from Tudor City on First Avenue and East 42nd Street. The New York Times has a nice diagram spelling it all out, a detail of which is shown above.

Despite the loss of a playground (though, as David Cantor, the spokesperson for Friends of the East River puts it, "the Greenway would create a far more open space out there than there is now”) a recent poll shows support for the project among east siders at a whopping 73%.

Basically, it's the residents of the east side of Manhattan saying to Mayor Bloomberg: let's do it!


In other good news for residents of east side rental apartments, the community group known as Civitas, which thinks about and does things for the Upper East Side and East Harlem, recently put out a call for submissions from architects, designers, artists, urban planners, and anyone who thinks they can transform the increasingly shabby East River Esplanade into a spruced-up cutting-edge public space.

Yes, I know there are some parts of the East River Esplanade that are already quite lovely--most notably, up near Carl Schurz Park and Gracie Mansion--but there are long stretches which could not uncharitably be called "crumbling", as pictured above.


Anyway, Civitas is accepting ideas and plans for their Reimagining the Waterfront contest anytime from now through January 15, 2012, and they really want to be wowed, asking for “dramatic and original concepts” for the waterfront area, including ideas for new landscapes, sculptures and lighting. First prize is $5,000! I definitely look forward to seeing how this pans out...

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