Harlem River Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, August 30, 2007

Extending The Harlem River Park Greenway

Photo courtesy of nyc.gov

On August 21, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Benepe broke ground on the $8.7 million Phase II renovation of the Harlem River Park Greenway and Esplanade. Joining them at the announcement were Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Bill Perkins, and State Assembly Member Keith Wright. This project, expected to be completed in August 2008, will open a new portion of the waterfront to the public, and extend the existing greenway and esplanade north from 139th Street to 142nd Street.

Phase I, completed in 2003, opened a section of waterfront and established a greenway and esplanade from 135th Street to 139th Street. When this new section is completed, New Yorkers will be able to travel on the waterfront from 60th Street to 142nd Street, with a ten-block detour that uses existing bike lanes to avoid a section of waterfront that is being used for necessary bridge repairs. The Mayor has allocated $5 million to the project, while $2 million was allocated through Federal Transportation Equity Act (TEA) grants and $1.7 million was provided by State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grants secured by Assembly Member Wright.

The Harlem River Park Greenway and Esplanade is designed to create a safe and inviting transportation alternative for bicyclists, walkers and joggers. It is designed by Ricardo Hinkle and the design highlights the site’s connection to the Harlem River, while minimizing the noise pollution of the adjacent Harlem River Drive through strategic plantings and other barriers. It will include new pavers, walls and curbs, game tables, fences, lighting, water supply and plantings.

What makes the design for the Harlem River shoreline unique are the many structural and bio-structural techniques being innovated to extend the life of this shoreline by several decades. These include the use of marine grade stainless steel, the additional cost of which is a very small percentage of the total cost of construction. We are also using the largest gauge steel in the mesh that they manufacture, and installing a back-up cage 15" from the front face, in case the front mesh should be breached. The spacing of the steel bars was reduced from 3" to 2", while the rock size is 4"-8". Therefore, damage to any one bar will not result in any loss of rocks. The structure will also be protected with a plastic lumber and recycled tire fender system, so that errant boats, debris or ice floes will not be able to damage the front mesh.

An additional innovation is the use of oyster shells along the front six inches. This will attract mussels and other mollusks that will attach to the front face, and help reinforce the structure. The deposition of silt and sediment over time will further solidify the gabion structure, making it actually gain strength as it ages. Ricardo Hinkle worked on these innovations with Marcha Johnson in consultation with the East Harlem community and Dewberry Engineers.

Future phases will address the 10 blocks between 125th and 135th Streets and the three-block stretch from 142nd to 145th Streets.


"We do what we must, and call it by the best names."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(1803 – 1882)

Park Information

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