December 11, 2006Section Includes New Boating Opportunities, Historic Elements and Public Art
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Governor George E. Pataki, the Hudson River Park Trust Board and Staff, members of the community and numerous local elected officials celebrated the opening of the northern Chelsea section of Hudson River Park today. The area, including Pier 66, the historic B&O RR float bridge, and three blocks of habitat enhancing landscape designed to attract birds and butterflies, is located on the Hudson River between West 26th and West 29th Streets. Today’s opening, the third this year, brings the 550-acre Hudson River Park one step closer to reopening the City’s waterfront for all New Yorkers to enjoy.
“The Hudson River Park is one of the most ambitious reclamation projects taking place today and when it’s complete it will provide millions of New Yorkers new access to our city’s waterfront,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This park is vital to our efforts to develop the far West Side and it will be a lasting testament to Governor Pataki’s leadership in preserving open spaces throughout our City and State.”
“Over the past 12 years we have made preserving and revitalizing the majestic Hudson River a main priority. By investing in our city and state’s waterways and working to revitalize and restore public access to our waterfronts, we are helping to better acquaint New Yorkers and their guests with the beauty and treasures these resources have to offer--promoting a greater knowledge of these resources and a greater interest in protecting them for future generations,” Governor Pataki said. “This section will bring new activities and amenities to the public, provide enhanced recreational and cultural opportunities for residents and visitors alike while helping to preserve open space and create new ecological zones. Today’s ribbon cutting is another major addition to the 26 new parks and dozen we have expanded across the State. I am happy to have been a part of rededicating 550-acres of New York City’s waterfront back to the entire community.”
Hudson River Park’s Chelsea North section, designed by Dattner Architects and Miceli Kulik Williams, Joint Venture, under the supervision of the Hudson River Park Trust’s Design and Construction Department and Skanska/McKissack, offers an array of passive and active recreation, boating opportunities, historic elements and public art. The area’s main attractions are piers 66 and 66a, each of which has something unique to offer park visitors.
Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation said, "With today's opening of the Northern Chelsea section, we are tantalizingly close to the completion of what was once just a dream - a five-mile stretch of beautiful waterfront parkland along the Hudson River, from Battery park to 59th Street.”
State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro said, “This latest milestone in the continuing development of Hudson River Park underscores Governor Pataki’s and Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to transforming New York City’s waterfront into an exciting recreation destination. Today’s ribbon cutting marks another successful phase in this city-state partnership and innovative urban park project by adaptively reusing Pier 66 and the historic float bridge to bring new outdoor activities and opportunities to residents and visitors alike.”
Charles “Trip” Dorkey III, Chairman of the Hudson River Park Trust said, “Here we are opening another portion of the spectacular Hudson River Park. This wonderful section encompasses something for everyone: from art, to boating, to simply sitting back and enjoying the view. The people of Chelsea and the City of New York now have another beautiful place in Hudson River Park where they can appreciate this magnificent River.”
Connie Fishman, Hudson River Park’s President said, “This particular spot, with its focus on art and nature, is unlike any other in Hudson River Park. I think it will become one of the community’s favorite places for just relaxing and experiencing life by the river.”
The Hudson River Park’s Pier 66a is actually a restored Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Float Bridge. The bridge was utilized as means of transporting goods by rail car via cross-Hudson barges from New Jersey for delivery to the B&O Freight Terminal in Manhattan. It was frequently used to transport cars containing cattle and sheep to stockyards that existed just north of its current location. The Float Bridge fell into a state of disrepair after its final use in 1973 and became partially submerged until 2001 when the New York State Department of Transportation and the Trust teamed up to lift it from the water and transfer it to Staten Island for restoration. In 2003, the restored Float Bridge returned to Chelsea and began its new life as a viewing platform, a small boat launch, a fishing spot and an historic educational element of Hudson River Park.
Just north of the Float Bridge is Pier 66, which stretches 500 feet into the Hudson River and has many extraordinary features including a new boathouse for kayaks and canoes and will include slips for sailboats and other small craft. But the pier’s most unique feature is a dynamic and kinetic public artwork -- Long Time, by local artist Paul Ramirez Jonas. Long Time, a 26-foot diameter water wheel constructed of stainless steel, harkens back to the river’s milling history and turns unpredictably with the tide. The piece presents a striking vision as the sun sets behind it and light is reflected off its spokes and paddles.
A second work of art, “Tables and Chairs”, by Allan and Ellen Wexler, is located in the upland area near 29th Street. The work is a functional two-part piece that encourages the visitor to become part of the sculpture itself. The first part of the piece contains a large horizontal plane supported by a series of chairs under which patrons can sit, as if underneath a table. The second part of the piece consists of a zigzagging table within which are irregularly placed chairs, allowing one to sit inside the table. The placement of the two sets of chairs choreographs ones views of the river, the landscape and the highway.
The completion of Chelsea North marks the arrival of the first phase of the larger Chelsea section of Hudson River Park. The next phase will incorporate Chelsea Cove, which includes Pier 64 – currently under construction at 24th Street – and Piers 63 and 62, due to begin in Spring of 2007 and slated for completion at the end of 2009. Chelsea Cove will feature more than nine acres of open space, a 3.5 acre “great lawn,” groves of trees, a beautiful waterside garden, a skate park and carousel, a public art piece called “Stone Field,” by Meg Webster, and one of Park's most remarkable views up and down the Hudson.
Hudson River Park, designed to be self-sustaining, will stretch five miles – from Battery Park to 59th Street – along the Hudson River, and will include a continuous waterside esplanade and bikeway, 13 new public piers for passive and active recreation, a marine sanctuary and a variety of boating facilities, sports fields, gardens, and green lawns. Portions of the project already complete include Greenwich Village (from Clarkson Street to Horatio Street), Clinton Cove (from 54th to 57th Streets), Pier 84 (from 43rd to 45th Streets), 3.5 acres of Athletic Fields at Pier 40 (Houston Street), and a continuous 5-mile, two-way bike, skate and jogging path that runs the length of the Park.
Stu Loeser/Jason Post