Riverside Park South (including historic pier information)

http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/vt_riverside_park/vt_rs_12_riverside_park_south.html

Riverside Park is a scenic waterfront public park on the Upper West Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City, operated and maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The park consists of a narrow four-mile (6 km) strip of land between the Hudson River and the gently curving rise-and-fall of Riverside Drive. When the park was first laid out, access to the river was blocked by the right-of-way of the New York Central Railroad West Side Line; later it was covered over with an esplanade lined with honey-locusts. Riverside Park also contains part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway which encircles Manhattan’s waterfronts, with car-free bike routes.

History of the Park

Riverside Park is one of only eight officially designated scenic landmarks in the City of New York. Rugged bluffs and rocky outcroppings created through prehistoric glacial deposits once descended directly to the Hudson River shore. They were densely wooded until 1846, when the Hudson River Railroad cut through the forested hillside. Acknowledging the city’s expansion northward, Central Park Commissioner William R. Martin proposed in 1865 that a scenic drive and park be built on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The land between the heights and the railroad was bought by the City over the next two years.

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), renowned co-designer of Central and Prospect Parks, was commissioned in 1873 and submitted a plan two years later combining park and parkway into a synthesized landscape which adhered to the general topographical contours of hill and dale. Over the next twenty-five years park designs were developed under a succession of landscape architects, including Samuel Parsons (1844–1923) and Olmsted’s partner, Calvert Vaux (1824–1895). The result, stretching from West 72nd to 125th Streets, was a park with grand, tree-lined boulevards, combined with an English-style rustic park with informally arranged trees and shrubs, contrasting natural enclosures, and open vistas.

The development of the park encouraged the construction of mansions along the drive. At the turn of the century, the City Beautiful movement sought to promote more dignified civic architecture, and found expression in the formal neo-classical detailing of the park’s extension from the 125th Street viaduct to 155th Street. Monuments placed along the drive during this era included Grant’s Tomb (1897), Soldiers and Sailors Memorial (1902), Firemen’s Memorial (1913), and Joan of Arc (1915).

The increased rail traffic and waterfront industries founded on shoreline landfill adjacent to Riverside Park led to an outcry by wealthy residents for action against these uses. After decades of discussion, a massive park expansion plan, crafted by architect Clinton Lloyd with landscape architect Gilmore Clarke, was implemented between 1934 and 1937 under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981). The park was widened westward by 148 acres, and the Henry Hudson Parkway, ball fields, esplanade, 79th Street Marina, and Rotunda were added to it.

In 1980, Riverside Park was designated an official city landmark. In 1994, Council Member Ronnie M. Eldridge funded a renovation of the 79th Street Marina’s docks at a cost of $1.3 million. Council Member Eldridge also helped fund an $8 million renovation of the Rotunda, and construction is slated to begin soon.
In 2000, seven acres of land stretching from 68th to 72nd Streets was added to Riverside Park, called Riverside Park South. This section of the park, part of a proposed 25-acre, $16 million project yet to be completed, was made possible by the construction of new portions of the West Side Highway, now known as the Joe DiMaggio Highway, and Trump/New World (the site’s developers). Riverside Park South includes a soccer field, three basketball courts, and a public pier extending 750 feet into the Hudson River.

The Riverside Park Fund, a community-based volunteer organization, contributes up to $1 million each year to fund projects in the park in places such as the Warsaw Ghetto Plaza, 87th Street Dog Run, and 73rd Street Track. The group also funds salaries for park workers. Several recent and ongoing renovations have helped ensure that Riverside Park will continue to serve the two million-plus users that take advantage of this Upper West Side treasure each year.

In 1998, Council Member Ronnie M. Eldridge funded a renovation of the cantilevered riverwalk between 83rd and 91st Streets at a cost of $1.5 million. Council Member Stanley E. Michels funded a $1.4 million restoration of the path between 143rd and 148th Streets, scheduled to begin shortly. Council Member Eldridge also funded a $3.15 million reconstruction of the South Lawn, to be completed in upcoming years.

Frederick Law Olmsted and Robert Moses’s Priceless Riverside Park

North End of 59th – 72nd Street Freight Terminals of the New York Central Railroad (now Riverside Park South)

North End of 59th – 72nd Street Freight Terminals of the New York Central Railroad (now Riverside Park South)

Circa 1960: On the West side freight line, the Central had a large yard and marine facilities at 60th street. Photo Source: http://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/vintage-ny-central?page=2

Navy Day Ships on Hudson River near Upper West Side, 1945. (Credit: U.S. Navy via the New-York Historical Society)
Photo source: http://www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/remembering-new-york-city-during-world-war-ii-in-photos.html

Ships anchored in the Hudson River during the Naval Review, 27 Oct. 1945. Photo Source: http://www.ww2incolor.com/d/6670-7/k16473.jpg

96th Street and the big box holding up the train is the Obelisk beginning it’s trip to Central Park.
Photo Source: http://newyorktoursbygary.blogspot.com/2011/12/more-hudson-river.html

View looking north from the north end of Riverside Park in 1890.
Photo Source: http://newyorktoursbygary.blogspot.com/2011/12/more-hudson-river.html

Pier D

Pier I

  • Pier I (at 70th Street), a 715-foot recreational pier, is built atop the remains of the original wooden shipping pier.
  • One of the most unique features of this first section of the new (Riverside Park South) park is the recreational pier. Pier I and most of Riverside Park South were originally part of the abandoned Penn Central railyard between 59th and 72nd Streets. Reconstructed to its original length of 795 feet, the pier has been narrowed considerably and is now only about 55 feet at its widest part where it once was wide enough to fit four parallel railroad tracks. Most piers are built perpendicular to the shore, but Pier I, along with its old neighbors Piers B, D, E, F and G as well as the nearby gantry, were built at a 55-degree angle to the shore to facilitate the transfer of rail cars from their tracks to a waiting barge. Only pilings remain of Piers B, D, E, F and G, but the ninety-five year old gantry remains standing today.
  • View on North River Sail NY Google Map

72nd Street Kayaking

69th Street Transfer Bridge

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