A Shore Thing
HRPT Plans Beach and Historic Sculpture for Gansevoort Peninsula
The Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) has unveiled plans to create Manhattan’s first-ever public beach on the Gansevoort Peninsula, a five-acre-plus chersonese that juts out from the West Side waterfront, between Horatio and West 13th Streets.
The beach will be more for viewing the water than public bathing, owing to concerns about hygiene and safety — although a kayak launch is also planned for the site, for parks users who want to come into contact with the Hudson. But the sandy riverfront portion of the park will feature a playground and an area for sunbathing.
Other features will include a dog run, public restrooms, an outdoor “river gym” (consisting of rust-proof calisthenics equipment), and a 56,000-square-foot ballfield for use by local youth leagues. Guests in search of quiet enjoyment will be drawn to a pair of groves — one set aside for picnicking and the other featuring pine trees and winding foot paths.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the new Gansevoort park will be a large-scale public art work: a sculpture by David Hammons, consisting of a stainless steel frame that will exactly duplicate the position and dimensions of the dock shed on the now-vanished Pier 52, which once traced the southern edge of the peninsula.
From the years following the Civil War to the 1950s, this structure was used as a freight-transfer station by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. By the 1970s, however, it had been abandoned. In 1975, artist Gordon Matta-Clark broke into the building and cut five large holes in its corrugated tin wall, providing a unique vantage point for viewing the sunset over the Hudson River. The artist, who quickly left New York when the police issued a warrant for his arrest, called his creation, “Day’s End.” In homage, Mr. Hammons’s is also giving his new piece (created in partnership with the nearby Whitney Museum) the same title.
All of these plans are made possible by the City’s decision (spurred by a lawsuit filed in the early 2000s by environmental groups) to remove a Department of Sanitation facility that for decades occupied the bulk of Gansevoort Peninsula. Originally used an incinerator, the hulking building later served as a parking garage for garbage trucks. One other municipal use remains on a sliver of the lot (with no plans to vacate): It serves as the headquarters for the Fire Department’s marine unit.
The preliminary timeline for building out these plans calls for construction to begin late next year, and be completed sometime before the end of 2022.
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