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Harlem River Park

The Daily Plant : Friday, October 10, 2003


On Tuesday, September 30, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the first phase towards the completion of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. During his 2002 State of the City Address, the Mayor pledged to create an interim, continuous 32-mile pathway all the way around Manhattan. Over the last ten years, several City and State agencies have built portions of the Manhattan Greenway but not until this year had they worked together to connect the existing portions. The 32-mile trail provides cyclists, joggers and pedestrians with a continuous route that includes over 23 miles of waterfront pathways and facilitates access to over 1,500 acres of parkland throughout the borough.

The announcement occurred at the Harlem River Speedway, a two-mile stretch of waterfront open space that runs adjacent to the Harlem River between 163rd and Dyckman Streets. Built in 1898 as a racing ground for the carriages of the City’s elite, the Speedway had fallen into disrepair and, since the mid-1960’s offered severely limited access to the general public. NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Boardman, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba, and Olympic cyclists Deirdre Murphy and Oscar Pineda joined the Mayor for the event.

"Now, for the first time ever, you can start your bike ride at one point in Manhattan, go all the way around the island, and end at exactly the same spot," Mayor Bloomberg. "It’s like a circle-line for bikes."

In 1993, the Department of City Planning issued a Greenway Plan for the City, which called for the development of a 350-mile network of greenways through all five boroughs including a continuous waterfront greenway around the island of Manhattan. At that time, only six miles of the waterfront were accessible to cyclists and pedestrians. Since that time, City and State agencies have built portions of the greenway but until 2003, had not worked together to connect the existing portions of the pathways. This phase of the plan uses $4.5 million in City funds and $1.5 million in State funds to connect existing waterfront esplanades, create new waterfront pathways and, where necessary, establishes on-street routes that will serve as interim links between the waterfront paths in Manhattan.

To coordinate construction of the Greenway, the Mayor’s Office, forged a working group including Parks & Recreation, the Department of Transportation, the Economic Development Corporation and Department of City Planning, and the State Department of Transportation.

City and State agencies collaborated on uniform signage for the entire length of the Manhattan Greenway to safely guide users, particularly bikers, along the path with recognizable trailblazers. The entire route is marked with the Greenway logo, a round, green medallion, and includes directional signage and indicates areas where the Greenway widens to provide two paths – one for pedestrians and one for cyclists. In addition, where necessary, on-street signage exists to provide links between Greenway portions.

Parks & Recreation would like to acknowledge the following staff who were among those who contributed to the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway: Joshua Laird, Jennifer Hoppa and Paul Ersboll in Planning; Nam Yoon, Larry Scoones, Margaret Asaro Peeler, Elaine Crowley, Ray Acosta, Jane Schachat and KC Sahl in the Manhattan Borough office; Pat Kirshner of the Battery Conservancy; Keith Kerman, Dan Froelich, and Keisha Simmons of 5-Boro; Amy Freitag, Nancy Barthold, Bonnie Koeppel, John Natoli, Mary Pazan, Michael Bolger, George Kroenert, Michael Hubartt, Douglas Nash, Oscar Urguiola, James Malin, Nadia Jarrett, Andrew Aideyan, Robin Pincus, Sakai Brown, Ellen Macnow, Celia Peterson, Kelli Miner and Karen Aleman in Capital. Parks & Recreation also commends the good work of RBA, the agency’s consultant design team headed by former Parkie Jackson Wandres.

To obtain a hardcopy of the Manhattan Greenway map, New Yorkers can call 311 or download it from the City’s website at


"What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare."

W. H. Davies


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