Riverside Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, May 2, 2001


Photo by Malcolm (Cinema) Pinckney

Like mothers and fathers, veterans and presidents, trees are honored with a national day in their name. On Arbor Day, New Yorkers celebrated all trees with the planting of an Oak.

From January 1, 2001 to April 27, Arbor Day, 450,000 Americans logged onto the National Arbor Day Foundation website to cast their vote for a National Tree. Among semifinalists, dogwood, maple, oak, pine, and redwood, oak emerged the clear victor. The people had spoken. But hours after CNN announced the people's choice for national tree, Parks planted a Pin oak in Riverside Park at 74th street. There, Parkies and New Yorkers joined together to salute a true American, a fine upstanding citizen, a pillar of the community, and a symbol of us all: the Oak tree.

Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern cast his vote for the maple, the New York state tree and the inspiration for the Parks leaf. Fiona (Treetop) Watt, Chief of Central Forestry, countered Stern's vote with a vote for the oak. She told the Plant, "like this country, the oak is sturdy and long-lived. It can be found all over the map. It is a tree Americans have in common."

The oak grows from a baby acorn to a mature tree of up to 100 feet in stature. It's a hardy tree with a broad spreading crown. Each fall, its leaves come ablaze with color. The King of Trees, as it's been called, the oak tree was considered a sacred tree among the Druids. Some Native American Tribes lived off its acorns in times of scarcity, and measured time by its biological changes. The Red oak is the most common tree in New York City's forests and woodlands, and the Pin oak, the kind planted in Riverside Park, is the third most common of our city's street trees. At the planting, StarQuest remarked, "streetsmart, and adaptable, the Pin oak captures the spirit not only of Americans, but of New Yorkers."


Imagine a child learning to bike in New York City. With traffic whizzing by and sidewalks packed with people, it's an image as scary for the adult as for the child. When you see small children and their parents bike the Cherry Walk along the Hudson-which opened for use last summer, and now enjoys the crowning glory of cherry blossoms-you will see that it's a totally different experience of biking and a rich, rare experience of nature. On Saturday, April 28, Parks cut the ribbon on a 1.5-mile stretch of greenway that runs through Riverside Park from 100th to 125th Street.

With $2.4 million in ISTEA grants, Parks widened the path from two feet to twelve feet, from barely room for single file, to room for walking two abreast. DOT removed 25,000 square feet of highway asphalt, and Parks stabilized the shore with 2,500 tons of natural stone riprap. Parks eliminated several highway pull-offs, and created a decorative low wall between the highway and the person. 35 new cherries trees were planted and 88 native trees interspersed among them. Along the way, designers Nancy (Designing Woman) Prince and Grant (Ulysses) Anderson added natural boulders as a place to rest and take in a view of the water. There's a north arrow paver and seagull footprints in the stone. At the top of the path is Riverside Park's traditional sea rail.

New Yorkers tend to know one stretch of Riverside Park's four and a half miles-the strip closest to home, the skate park, the boat basin, or a particular ballfield. With this path, walkers, skaters, and bicyclists may sweep through the park and discover new areas, including the less often visited northern reaches of the park. They may even use the scenic route as a shortcut from point a to point b, incorporating it into the routine of grocery shopping as well as recreating.

Eleven and a half miles is a long bikeride-just what New Yorkers crave. With this walk is completed another link in the city's longest path for walkers, skaters, and bicyclists. The greenway runs from Battery Park to Fort Washington Park. Soon it will touch every bit of the west side shoreline and run all the way to upstate New York. On Saturday, Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern welcomed visitors to New York's delicious new bikepath along with John (Spokes) Kaehny, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives; Carolyn (Rockwell) Kent, Parks Committee Chair for Community Board 9; Adrian (A-Train) Benepe, Manhattan Borough Commissioner; and Charles (Razorback) McKinney, Riverside Park Administrator.

(Wednesday, May 4, 1988)


In 1943, the year Mary Boyle joined the Parks Department, Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House, Fiorello La Guardia was in Gracie Mansion and Robert Moses was in the Arsenal. Eight Presidents, six Mayors, and ten Commissioners later, Mary is still going strong. About 100 friends, former and present colleagues, and family members gathered in the Arsenal Gallery Monday night to honor Mary for nearly half a century of dedicated service.


"Loveliest of tree the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough."

Alfred Edward Houseman (1859-1936)

Directions to Riverside Park

Know Before You Go

West 79th Street Boat Basin

The 79th Street Boat Basin marina is currently closed. No vessel dockage, moorage, anchorage or launch services are available. The marina will be dredged and reconstructed to modern codes and standards. The marina is anticipated to reopen in 2025.

Related inquiries may be sent to boatbasin@parks.nyc.gov

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