Wards Island Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, May 24, 2001


Photo by Malcolm (Cinema) Pinckney

The transformation of Randall's and Wards Island Park has begun. On Monday, May 21, Mayor Rudy (Eagle) Giuliani; Council Speaker Peter (Boulder) Vallone; Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern; Michael (Galway) Carey, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation; and Richard (Advisor) Davis, Chairman of the Randall's Island Sports Foundation were among those who announced to the press their plan for a major reconstruction of the island park.

Building on local commitment and demand, Parks, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Randall's Island Sports Foundation (RISF) created a Management, Restoration and Development Plan. According to the plan, Downing Stadium will be demolished and the surrounding area re-sited with a complex of soccer fields at a cost of $4.5 million dollars. Replacing the Downing Stadium track will be a new $18 million dollar Track & Field Center, which is scheduled to be completed by spring 2002. The Track & Field Center will be a world-class facility capable of hosting continental, regional, and area championships, as well as Olympic training and trials.

The plan will describes a 19,500-seat amphitheater to be situated along the western shoreline of Randall's Island. It will take advantage of the magnificent river and skyline views, inviting visitors and drawing attention, interest, and support to the park. A 2003 opening is also planned for a $40 million water park. The much anticipated water park will include family-themed activities such as children's spray showers, lazy river raft rides, slides and wave pools.

Randall's & Wards Island Park is located in the East River below the Triborough Bridge, between East Harlem in Manhattan, the South Bronx, and Astoria, Queens. Its vast green spaces and dramatic views of the surrounding three boroughs have long inspired visions of what it could be.

In their earliest days, Randall's & Wards Islands were home to farms, light industry, and institutional services. After sporadic development, the park began to take cohesive shape in the 1930s under the leadership and vision of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. Moses connected the two islands with landfill to create Randall's & Wards Island, and undertook its development into a single park. In 1936, with the grand opening of Triborough (Downing) Stadium, the park was launched as a major sports, entertainment, and recreation destination.

The island was host to memorable events that attracted sizable crowds, including concerts by the legendary Duke Ellington, Jesse Owens's dazzling victory in the 1936 Olympic 100-yard dash trials, and Pele's 1975 American debut. The park continues to be a favorite spot for New Yorkers to relax, picnic, play ball, and enjoy the greenery. Although Moses envisioned the park as a cohesive sports and recreation center, his vision was never fully realized. Today, with the support of the City and numerous private stakeholders and through the efforts of the Randall's Island Sports Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1992 to care for the park, the first phase of restoration and development will begin. With this, we recommit ourselves to completing Moses' vision.

By Aimee (Tristar) Boden

(Thursday, May 19, 1988)


On Tuesday Parks mechanics began a four-day training program to learn how to maintain and repair Hi-Rangers at the new $10 million Five-Boro Vehicle Repair and Maintenance Facility on Randall's Island.

The Hi-Ranger is an aerial lift (also known as a cherry picker or hydrolic lift tower) used by Parks forestry crews to prune trees and clear branches. In the past, the giraffe-like vehicles were usually sent back to the vendor for repairs. Now that in-house mechanics will have this highly-specialized maintenance skill, Parks will be able to fix Hi-Rangers more efficiently.


"When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone."

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

Directions to Wards Island Park


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