The first section of the new East River Waterfront Esplanade opened this afternoon between Wall Street and Maiden Lane, offering downtown Manhattan residents a preview of a $165 million, 4-year-long project that eventually will transform two miles of shoreline into public recreational space.
“The new East River Waterfront Esplanade is the newest jewel on New York City’s magnificent harbor,” Bloomberg said in a prepared statement. “One of the goals of the waterfront plan we unveiled earlier this year is to reconnect New Yorkers to New York City’s more than 500 miles of waterfront and make it part of their everyday lives, and the new esplanade will help do that for Lower Manhattan’s tens of thousands of residents, 300,000-plus workers and millions of visitors.”
The new promenade is open from 6 a.m. to midnight, and features walkways, bike lanes and lots of seating, including elevated bar stools that provide a view across the river to Brooklyn, chaise lounges and waterside benches. A series of stadium-like steps called “The Lookout” lead to the water at the foot of Wall Street, while a new state-of-the-art dog park features a climbing bridge, sand pit, splash pad and dog house.
“For too long, my neighbors on the east side of Lower Manhattan have not been able to enjoy the kind of open space and access to the waterfront that they deserve,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was on hand for the ceremony. “We must return the river to the people of this city, to whom it belongs.”
Sen. Daniel Squadron and Councilmember Margaret Chin joined Bloomberg, Silver and Sen. Chuck Schumer at the event.
Squadron called the esplanade “yet another sign that the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan is real.”
“This is another step in linking New York’s waterfront open spaces, from uptown and the westside to Brooklyn and Governor’s Island, and creating a Harbor Park – a central park for the center of our city,” Squadron said.
“The East River Waterfront Esplanade will be an invaluable and much-loved resource for the Lower Manhattan community,” Chin said. “The East River waterfront is a unique part of the fabric of downtown Manhattan, and now we get to realize its full potential.”
The New York Times published a nice preview of the new recreation space this morning, while New York Magazine offered an overview of the waterfront revitalization from its architecture critic, Justin Davidson.