Press Releases

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
No. 374

Mayor Bloomberg And Commissioner Benepe Break Ground On Riverwalk In Riverside Park

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today broke ground on a new bicycle and pedestrian path in Manhattan’s Riverside Park. The $13.3 million project will construct an over-water path, or Riverwalk, that will connect the Hudson River Esplanade from West 83rd to West 91st Streets, creating unbroken waterfront access from 59th Street to 133rd Street. The Mayor allocated over $13 million towards the project, with the remainder contributed through the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. Construction will also include the planting of 31 trees and 357 shrubs. The Mayor and Commissioner Benepe were joined at the ground breaking by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Eric Schneiderman, Council Member Gale Brewer and Riverside Park Fund President James T. Dowell.

“When this project is finished in 2009, it will fill one of the last remaining gaps in a continuous chain of greenway that stretches along the entire Hudson side of Manhattan,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Building this scenic greenway also helps us fulfill two of the central initiatives of PlaNYC: opening up more of our waterfront to the public and having every New Yorker live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground.”
“70 years ago this week, the dramatic expansion of Riverside Park over the railroad tracks and the creation of the first waterfront promenade in Manhattan was celebrated by Mayor LaGuardia and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a cleaner, greener City with expanded waterfront parks and greenways, we are in the midst of the largest program of park construction since the 1930s. The Mayor’s allocation of over $13 million to construct this vital new Greenway link will allow walkers, joggers, cyclists and in-line skaters to enjoy continuous waterfront recreation and commuting.”
“As Riverside Park’s nonprofit partner, Riverside Park Fund has been advocating for the Riverwalk for many years,” said Riverside Park Fund President Dowell. “On behalf of the Park’s users, we are very grateful to Mayor Bloomberg for making this dream a reality.”

The Riverwalk will be constructed on a pile-supported platform in and along the Hudson River between West 83rd and 91st Streets. When construction is complete, park patrons will have continuous waterfront access instead of the current layout, where park patrons must exit the existing esplanade through a tunnel, walk along the upland area, and then back through another tunnel to the waterfront. The Riverwalk project is consistent with the original design of the park and the park’s historic relationship to the Hudson River.

In 1875, Frederick Law Olmsted completed a schematic design for Riverside Park and the first sections of the park opened five years later. In 1935, Department of Parks landscape architect Gilmore Clarke designed the area of Riverside Park to the west of the newly constructed Henry Hudson Parkway. His design, completed under the supervision of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, created an area of landfill to the west of the New York Central Railroad line, beyond the Olmsted-era footprint of Riverside Park. This extension provided an area adjacent to the water for active recreation extending from West 72nd Street to 155th Street along the Hudson River. In 1937 a waterfront esplanade, lined with multi-stem crab apple trees, was created from West 72nd Street to 83rd Street. North of that point the Henry Hudson Parkway swept down to the waters edge, giving drivers views of Manhattan to the south or the New Jersey Palisades to the north.
Over the past five years, Parks & Recreation has spent more than $152 million on Manhattan park improvements, including new waterfront parks, bike paths, and greenways. There are currently 42 Park construction projects underway in the borough, totaling $187 million. Another 55 projects in Manhattan with an estimated cost of $141 million are currently in design or procurement.

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