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West Harlem Piers Park

Park of the Month - May 2009

West Harlem Piers Park is May´s Park of the Month

West Harlem Piers Park is May´s Park of the Month

The former site of a parking lot, West Harlem Piers Park is now a two–acre waterfront oasis that connects West Harlem to the Hudson River greenway and features new recreational piers, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and landscaped open space. On May 30, West Harlem community members joined elected officials, including Governor David Paterson, Congressman Charles Rangel, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, to officially commemorate the opening of the new waterfront park.

“The opening of West Harlem Piers Park continues Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to connect New Yorkers to the waterfront and join neighborhoods with greenways,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Benepe. “Thanks to a true partnership between community members and elected officials, we have transformed this former parking lot into a green oasis along the Hudson River that provides a crucial link in the Hudson River greenway, which is now continuous from Battery Park to Dyckman Street.”

The new piers support various activities including fishing, water tours, boating and ecological exploration. The piers can also accommodate a variety of vessels, allowing excursion boats and water taxis to dock in West Harlem. The bicycle and pedestrian paths provide a critical link in the waterfront greenway, creating a continuous path, from the Battery to Dyckman Street. Funding for the $20 million park was provided from a number of sources, including the City, State and Federal governments, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the Manhattan Borough President, the City Council and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.

Public art displayed in the park by local artist Nari Ward was commissioned through the Department of Cultural Affairs' Percent for Art Program. A series of sculptures, titled Voice, was inspired by the local residents who would frequently fish at this site, and references the eyelet guide of the fishing rod. The sculptures are accompanied by Signage Barriers, a series of street–sign–inspired text. Words were drawn from surveys Ward conducted with community members, asking about their memories of the area. Mr. Ward was also inspired by the history of the native peoples that made this area their home, and the changing industrial and natural landscape of the Hudson River. Ward's mysterious, poignant, and playful installation suggests a furtive and engaging take on the idea of landmark, collective memory, and the subjective nature of vision; opening up timely questions about shared experiences, loss, renewal, and memory.

Mayor Bloomberg announced the West Harlem Master Plan in October of 2002 with the goal of revitalizing the area between 125th and 135th Streets, Broadway and the Hudson River in West Harlem. The plan calls for the transformation of neglected City–owned land, various transportation improvements to support the neighborhood’s growth, and land-use policies to promote a greater variety of uses. City Planning and NYCEDC have worked closely with the community, including Community Board 9 and West Harlem Environmental Action, to advance plans for the area, receiving extensive input from working committees made up of various stakeholders including elected officials, government agencies and community organizations.

Park of the Month introduces some of our greatest parks and green spaces to curious New Yorkers and visitors.