Little Island Park

During New York City’s lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, I took up bike riding, primarily along the Hudson River Greenway (see more detail about my perspective on biking in NYC here). Although I had previously noticed the odd constellation of what looked like concrete mushrooms blooming in the Hudson River just south of Chelsea Piers at Pier 55, on my nearly-daily rides past the construction area I watched with interest the development of the city’s newest park. I was thrilled to visit Little Island Park on its first day open to the public, May 21, have been back recently, and have another visit booked (more on the need to book timed tickets later).

Enter where 13th Street meets the Hudson River, walking over a bridge to get to this park built over the water. One of the first things you see is a series of food trucks with an area to eat in the shade. There are a variety of wines, beers, and cocktails available in addition to food, coffee, pastries, and non-alcoholic beverages.

Flowers and other lush landscaping bloom atop the concrete petals. Once in the park, you barely notice the structure that is so striking from a distance – unless you happen to be walking under a few of them, as the park has many different elevations.

There are numerous whimsical touches – music you can create by jumping on tiles or pulling levers, and a few spinning devices for fun (or perhaps to hypnotize yourself or others).

The views are spectacular as you wind your way around the park, and there are multiple places to sit – some intimate, and others grand (like the amphitheatre that will soon begin hosting performances).

On opening day, they were giving out packets of seeds and colored pencils. Little Island also has large and very clean bathrooms, which is greatly appreciated.

When I went on opening day, I was there in the morning. At that point, they had a policy of requiring free timed tickets from 12-8 (reserve them here), but since then the park has been so popular that they require the tickets from noon until closing. Little Island is open every day from 6AM to 1AM, and if you can’t get a timed reservation, you could try going in the morning. I was just there on a timed ticket on a weekend afternoon, and the need for a reservation kept the park from feeling crowded. The next time I have planned, it will be to meet someone for lunch there (and we have reservations already). I think the park is still working out when they release reservations and for how long in advance, so keep checking if you are looking for a reservation and at first they are all sold out.

I will never forget my first time on the High Line Park (see an old blog post here and another when they expanded the park here). I was charmed, and also exhilarated with the feeling of experiencing something completely new. In our concrete jungle here in NYC, it is all the more important that we find these places to experience nature and feel a sense of integration between artificial and natural worlds that we strive to bridge. Going to Little Island Park has given me that same sense of wonder and appreciation. New York City is constantly evolving, and after a year or more of pandemic hardship and isolation, gathering together in this innovative new space feels like a wonderful way in which change can also heal.

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