The centerpiece of the new Pier 26 is the Tide Deck—a cultivated rocky salt marsh beneath an elevated, cantilevered walkway
The tally of great public spaces in Lower Manhattan has increased by one. Last Wednesday, the Hudson River Park Trust officially opened Pier 26 in Tribeca (near Hubert Street), the product of a decade-plus of planning and construction, and a $37-million budget.
The result is 2.5 acres of woodland forest, coastal grassland, maritime scrub, and a rocky tidal zone—all culminating in a breathtaking view of the Hudson River. Additionally included in the design are a multi-use recreation field and a spacious sunning lawn, as well as boardwalks and seating areas.
“Pier 26 is a celebration of the Hudson River coastline,” reflects Madelyn Wils, president of the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT), the public service organization responsible for designing, building, operating and maintaining the park that stretches four miles along the waterfront of Manhattan’s west side. “It will really show people the kinds of life that are in the Hudson River and the life that is actually now becoming more enhanced as the River becomes cleaner.”
Above: The new dock also features an athletic field, spacious lawns, boardwalks and seating areas. Below: Two “sheds” (complete with swings) are designed to frame the vista, while also providing a sheltered space for quiet contemplation.
Holly Leicht, chair of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), which funded part of the project, says that Pier 26, “was always in the master plan as an ‘ecological pier.’ But what that could mean was anyone’s guess. So much creativity has been put in to making each part of this park with magic at every step. This really is the heart of the west side right now.”
Lucinda Sanders, the chief executive officer of landscape architecture firm Olin (which created the design for Pier 26), says, “we wanted to create a very curated journey through this landscape. There is about a 12-foot grade change, so that you are not just walking in a woodland, but you’re moving up into the canopy of the trees.” She adds, “there are two sheds designed to frame vistas, but they’re also these places where you can just go in and sit and mediate on a swing and be kind of quiet.”
Ms. Been observes, “it’s amazing that the HRPT was able to move forward with these projects during the pandemic, but it’s the affirmation that New York is moving forward, they we’re doubling down on making New York City even better.” She predicts that Pier 26, “is going to get people out to where they really feel like they’re connecting with the River in a way that I don’t think any other place in the Park does, or really any other place in the City does.”
Pier 26 has been closed to the public for more than a decade. In the early 1900s, the Old Dominion Steamship Company took passengers and freight from what is now called Tribeca to Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia. (The fare was $8.00, and the trip took 24 hours.) By the early 2000s, however, the dock had been abandoned for decades, and its rotting structure was beginning to fall into the Hudson.
The curated “habitat walk” that spans the dock’s 700-foot length takes visitors through five distinct “ecological zones,” culminating with a stunning view of the Hudson River.
Beginning in 2008, the wharf was demolished and rebuilt, creating a blank slate for which it was possible to begin making plans. “We went to the community to find out what they wanted this park to have,” Ms. Wils recalls.
Priorities voiced at a succession of meetings with Community Board 1 (CB1) included the opportunity to get close to the water, as well as strong educational and ecological components. This led to the creation of the Tide Dec—a cultivated rocky salt marsh beneath an elevated, cantilevered walkway, where tours escorted by HRPT staff will be able to descend to the water’s edge—as well as hundreds of native plantings.
“These are all plants that you would have seen 400 years ago if you were standing on the Hudson River coastline,” Ms. Wils says. “And the Tide Deck is our outdoor classroom. It really is the exclamation point on our mission to teach people about the River and about the estuary.”
The dialog with the community also led to some details in the original vision for Pier 26 being vetoed. For example, a plan to install wind turbines on the dock to meet all (or most) of the facility’s need for electrical power was met with resistance by CB1 members, who raised concerns about noise and danger to birds from this element of the design, which was dropped.
Resiliency was another focus of community concerns, which led to a uniquely sustainable design. As Paul Goldstein, chair of CB1’s Waterfront Committee noted in 2019, “it is built to flood. HRPT is using materials that they believe, if the pier is overwhelmed by water, can be easily restored.”
After years of discussion and consultation, a final design was unveiled in December, 2016. Around this time, HRPT also announced that it had secured $30 million in funding, thanks to three appropriations (of $10 million each), from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the de Blasio Administration, and Citigroup, which occupies an office tower directly adjacent to Pier 26. The remaining budget came from grants from Albany and Washington.
While Pier 26 is open, it is not quite finished. Still under construction is a children’s playground designed to spark an interest in science among young minds. And funds are still being raised to build a new home for Estuarium — a combination laboratory, public exhibit and learning space designed to offer hands-on programs in the urban ecology of New York Harbor and the larger Hudson River ecosystem — that was created by the River Project, in Tribeca, in the 1990s. For years, the River Project was housed on Pier 26, but the organization relocated to temporary quarters at Pier 40 when the HRPT began to redevelop the structure in 2008.
Eyes to the Sky
October 6 – 18, 2020
Planet Mars Will Surprise You
Mars reaches opposition, as in this artist’s illustration, when it is opposite from the sun in Earth’s sky. (Image credit: NASA)
A rusty-gold star-like celestial body shines suspended above the eastern skyline at nightfall. It is heaven’s celebrity of the month. Even though I knew that planet Mars is predicted to be at that location after sunset, a rush of surprise overcame me when, approaching a clear view to the east, the planet’s brilliant light pierced the darkness. Mars is brightest for the year in Earth’s skies. Today, the 6th, it will orbit closest to our planet since 2018 and arrive at “opposition” on the 13th.
According to Simulation Curriculum’s Starry Night Skyguide software, the red planet’s magnitude ranges from -2.56 tonight to a maximum of -2.62 on the 12th. By the 18th, Mars’ magnitude drops to -2.52 and continues to decrease, but is still quite bright until the end of October. Note that the red planet’s maximum magnitude possible seen from Earth is -2.92.
“During the Mars opposition in 2003, the Red Planet was only 34.6 million miles … from Earth. This was the closest the two planets had come to each other in almost 60,000 years, and this record won’t be broken until Aug. 28, 2287, according to NASA.” This year, Mars will be closest to Earth, at 38,568,243 miles distant, at 10:19 a.m. on the 6th. The planet’s furthest distance is 250 million miles.
Follow Mars from sunset to sunrise. Take a first look before moonrise. The waning gibbous moon rises in the east-northeast at 8:38pm on the 5th and half-hour to an hour later all this week The rusty-gold orb reaches rather high in the sky at midnight and then drops to set in the west as the sun rises in the east.
Sunset is at 6:30 Eastern Daylight Time today and about two minute earlier everyday through the 18th. Mars rises at about 7 o’clock today and several minutes earlier every evening.
Latest in Wave of Hotel Closures Steps Away from Hostelry Commandeered as Homeless Shelter
The AKA Wall Street Hotel, located at 84 William Street (on the corner of Maiden Lane) has closed permanently. This is the latest in a rash of hotel closures in Lower Manhattan, which includes the Assemblage (at 17 John Street, operated by the company as AKA Wall Street), the W New York Downtown on Albany Street (on Albany Street), and the Suites by Sonder on Wall Street. To read more…
Freedom of Movement
Alliance Revamps Bus Fleet to Make Hitching a Ride More Hygienic
As of Thursday, the Downtown Connection shuttle bus has a new look, a new fleet, and new onboard systems to safeguard against the spread of communicable airborne diseases.
The new vehicles, operated by US Coachways, are configured with forward-facing seats, with each row separated by plastic shields to facilitate socially distant riding. The new design also eliminates the standing room that the old bus fleet contained, because, “during a pandemic, we didn’t want passengers positioned above other, seated riders,” explains Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance, which operates the shuttle as a public service to the Lower Manhattan community.” To read more…
photo: Karl Weintraub
Citys Plan to House Homeless in FiDi Hotel
Lower Manhattan residents and community leaders are scrambling to formulate a response to the announcement, circulated last Friday evening, that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to use a hotel in the Financial District as a homeless shelter.
The hotel, known as the Radisson New York Wall Street, is located at 52 William Street, between Wall and Pine Streets. Housing homeless persons there is actually not a new development. As the Broadsheet reported six months ago… To read more…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Words Come to Life Amid New Installation in Battery Park City
Poets House—a library, creative space, and meeting place that invites poets and the public to step into the living tradition of poetry, while cultivating a wider audience for the art—will celebrate its tenth anniversary in Battery Park City by launching the Poetry Path, an immersive public art installation running the northern length of Battery Park City, from Rockefeller and Teardrop Parks to the North Cove Marina. To read more…
Rice and Beans
They are better
Me and Jayden
We are better
Josh, PS1 student
Playing Hooky for Health
More Than Half of All Students at Downtown Schools Opt for Remote Learning
As children are slated to return to public elementary schools today (along with public middle and high schools on Thursday), slightly more than half of all students in nine Lower Manhattan public schools plan to stay home and focus on remote learning, according to statistics from a State Department of Health (DOH) website.
The DOH’s School COVID-19 Report Card site contains preliminary data about how many students are expected to return to each school throughout the State, relative to the overall size of every school’s student body.
The nine Downtown schools included in this analysis are P.S/I.S. 276, P.S. 89, I.S. 289, P.S. 234, P.S. 343 (Peck Slip), P.S. 397 (Spruce Street), and P.S. 150, as well as Millennium High School and Stuyvesant High School. To read more…
This symposium aims for a broad perspective on leveraging the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in materials simulations, materials synthesis, and translating research into high-volume industrial production — covering the application of AI throughout the entire life cycle of new materials. It will bring together materials scientists, industry experts, and AI researchers to shape future research directions, identify urgent issues in this rising field, and foster interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities. $45-$130
Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
One night at a dinner party in Florence, historian Daniel Lee was told about a remarkable discovery. An upholsterer in Amsterdam had found a bundle of swastika-covered documents inside the cushion of an armchair he was repairing. They belonged to Dr. Robert Griesinger, a lawyer from Stuttgart, who joined the S.S. and worked at the Reich’s Ministry of Economics and Labor in Nazi-occupied Prague during the war. In The S.S. Officer’s Armchair, Lee weaves detection with biography to tell an astonishing narrative of ambition and intimacy in the Third Reich. In this book talk, historian Lisa Leff (The Archive Thief, Colonialism and the Jews) will interview Lee about his journey to learn more about Griesinger and how his most precious documents ended up hidden inside a chair, hundreds of miles from Prague and Stuttgart. $10 suggested donation
Celebrate the nature found in our beloved BPC parks. Pick up a self-guided worksheet that will invite you to tour the gardens investigating plants and trees, as well as the pollinating insects and birds that visit the parks of BPC. Participants are expected to bring their own pencils and clipboards. Program is first come, first served for up to 20 children with accompanying adults. Masks and contact information required upon arrival. Activity is self-guided. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free
Transportation & Street Activity Permits Committee
1) 60 Collister and 55 Laight Street, further review of application to renovate industrial street canopy to main building entrance – Discussion & Resolution
2) Bogardus Plaza, statement of support for PDC-approved kiosk – Discussion & Resolution
3) Capital and Expense Budget Items for FY 2022 – Discussion
10/12 Office Closed – Columbus Day
Federal Appeals Court Quashes Suits Against BPCA By September 11 Cleanup Workers
A federal appeals court in Lower Manhattan on Monday dismissed the final cluster of personal injury lawsuits against the Battery Park City Authority (BCPA) arising from the cleanup of toxic debris following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a 2019 decision by U.S. District Court judge Alvin Hellerstein, who tossed out the same bundle of 124 suits against the Authority, brought by rescue, recovery and cleanup workers who were made sick by exposure to hazardous materials while laboring in the community during the weeks and months after the destruction of the World Trade Center. To read more…
Getting a Corner on the Market
Retail Developer Wins Years-Long Struggle for Control of Legendary Bank Building
When the financial upheaval unleashed by the pandemic coronavirus begins to settle, a long-neglected local landmark may resume its erstwhile status as an iconic Lower Manhattan public space.
The building, 23 Wall Street (at the corner of Broad Street), is a former tabernacle of American capitalism. To read more…
‘A Fraudulent Scheme’
FiDi Renters Win Recompense for Years of Illegal Rent Overcharges
Rentals tenants in a Financial District building, who sued their landlord to demand restitution for years of illegally high rent, have won a $5-million settlement. The building is the luxury rental tower at 63-67 Wall Street.
Last November, Tallen Todorovich, a renter in 63-67 Wall Street filed suit, seeking class-action status on behalf of all current and former tenants, and alleging that they had not been given rent-stabilized leases for their apartments, even though the building received tax abatements under a program intended for rent-stabilized buildings.
This action (along with half a dozen other, similar suits) stemmed from a June, 2019 ruling by New York State’s highest court, which found that as many as 5,000 Lower Manhattan apartments had been illegally deprived of rent stabilization benefits.
The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has begun implementation of a landmark plan to “achieve progressive sustainability targets over the next decade, and lay the groundwork for continued sustainability action after 2030.”