L is for Little
Located at Pier 55 in Hudson River Park @W 13th St, New York, NY 10014
Little Island is a new public park, jutting into the Hudson River, over what used to be piers 54 and 55. It is located within the larger Hudson River Park, which extends from Battery Park in the south to Pier 97 in the north.
The park is held up by 132 funnel shaped structures called Tulips. These tulips vary in height, anywhere between 15 and 62 feet above the water.
The park opened to the public on May 21 2021. It has an area of 2.4 acres and is built on multiple levels. There are two walkway bridges connecting the island park to the Hudson River walkway on the mainland. (The word ‘mainland’ is used kinda loosely here as Manhattan itself is an island!)
There are several wonderful seating areas and lookout points throughout the park. If you can imagine the whole park in the rough shape of a bowl, at the rims will be the lookout points, with a lawn, lots of seating with umbrellas for sun protection, and children’s performance area in the center which is called ‘the play ground’. You will find food vendors in this area as well.
You can walk up the various paths to get to the three overlooks with some of the best views in the city, of the neighborhood, downtown Manhattan and New Jersey.
To the southern end of the park is ‘the glade’ where small performances take place. Usually someone is reading to children sitting in close circles, with the parents a bit further on the benches. Various music, dance, poetry, and comedy shows take place here as well.
There is an amphitheater with facilities for professional performances in the park, called ‘the amph’. For these performances you will need advance tickets, which can be reserved online. If there is no performance taking place, this is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the view.
Only working dogs that assist patrons with disabilities are allowed in the park. Pets and emotional support animals are not allowed as it is not conducive to the wellbeing of the garden beds and lawns.
Looking at the up and down terrain of the park it is hard to imagine, but the whole of Little Island is ADA compliant.
The park is open to the public starting 6 am in the morning and closes at different hours, depending on the season, anywhere from 9 pm to 12 am.
There is a wide variety of trees and flowering plants growing all over the park. These are natives that thrive in the local conditions. These are maintained to suit the changing seasons.
During the 19th and 20th centuries the Hudson River waterfront was a busy port of entry. Between 1910 and 1935, Pier 54 operated the British Cunard-White Star line, serving as a point of departure and return for trans-Atlantic ocean liner voyages.
The pier then fell into disuse until the 1970s when it became the center of community activities in the area, especially for the city’s LGBTQ community. Starting in 1986, the annual Dance on the Pier event took place here for over 25 years.
In 2012, Pier 54 was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy which hit the New York City coastline. Instead of building it back up, the idea of an alternative use for it was envisioned.
Little Island was planned, designed and built under a private-public partnership. While $260 million came from private contributions, the rest of the cost was borne by the city and state of New York.
The best time to visit Little Island is early morning, just as soon as it is open. There is absolute peace and quiet and you have the whole place to yourself. And after you have done with Little Island, it just a short walk to the High Line, which will take you to the Hudson yards. So much to see, so much to do!
In 1912, survivors from the Titanic disaster arrived to safety at Pier 54 where Little Island stands today, aboard the RMS Carpathia rescue liner.