Hudson River Park: Manhattan Waterside Destination
In the last decade, the decrepit piers and industrial zones along five miles of the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side have been utterly transformed. Hudson River Park is now a destination that gets 17 million visits annually, with a bike path, green spaces, playgrounds and recreation ranging from mini-golf and skateboarding to kayaking and even stand-up paddleboarding.
Melissa Lopez rented a bike a few weeks ago from Bike and Roll at Pier 84, near 44th Street and 12th Avenue, and was amazed at what she saw as she rode downtown through the park.
“It was gorgeous, like a little nature haven, beautiful flowers, trees, and only when you looked over to your left (at the buildings), did you realize you were in between a concrete jungle and this beautiful river,” said Lopez, 29, who came in from her home in suburban Westchester for the day. “Everyone was doing something active — sunbathing, rollerblading, bike riding. There was one pier with a volleyball court with sand. I kept telling my boyfriend, ‘Are we really in New York City?’”
Lopez’s reaction is proof of just how much things have changed along the river. For much of New York City’s history, “the waterfront was where the industrial areas were,” said Madelyn Wils, president and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust. “Then in the 1960s, the port business went away and the waterfront areas became so derelict they were an embarrassment. If you saw pictures of what this looked like even 10 years ago, you’d say, ‘How could anyone let that happen?’”