Hudson River Park connects many other recreational sites and landmarks. It runs through the Manhattan neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan (including Battery Park City, World Trade Center, and Tribeca),Greenwich Village (including the West Village and Meatpacking District), Chelsea, and Midtown West (which includes Hudson Yards and Hell's Kitchen/Clinton).
HistoryPrior to American colonization of New Netherland, Native Americanslived on the shore of the southernmost portion of the Hudson River—where the park now is—seasonally, in a place called "Sapohanikan". It was near the present-day intersection of Gansevoort Street and Washington Street. It was probably a hunting and fishing site, and Native Americans probably used the oyster reefs on the shore as well; after European settlement, the Europeans began using these reefs.
Later, oyster barges, which sold high volumes of oysters, opened along the Hudson River shore, within several North River piers. Because of their quantity, they were often sold at cheap prices, and immigrants to New York City often relied on eating oysters. These oyster barges closed when the oysters died due to over-farming and pollution resulting from the shore's industrialization.
In 1807, the first steamboat in passenger operation, Clermont, was launched from present-day Pier 45, in the West Village. The Clermont, the first successful boat of its kind in the United States, helped give Robert Fulton control over all steamboat operations on the rest of the Hudson River.The English White Star Line, consisting of the Lusitania, the Olympic, and the Titanic, had a terminal at Pier 54. It was at this location where survivors of the sinking of the Titanic arrived in the Carpathia.
By the late 19th century, the Slaughterhouse District was created along the Hudson River shoreline in present-day Hell's Kitchen. A stretch of 39th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues was called Abattoir Place until the early 20th century. In the 1870s, tunnels to herd cattle under 12th Avenue were created at 34th and 38th Streets. The cattle industry in this area continued through the 1960s.
Conception and constructionWhat is now Hudson River Park emerged from the failed 1970s and 1980s redevelopment of the dilapidated West Side Highway known as the Westway, which would have upgraded it to Interstate Highway standards as part of an extended I-78. The right-of-way of the new six-lane highway would have demolished the existing West Side piers and replaced it with 220 acres of landfill, which would be tunneled through to create the new highway. In addition to 100 acres of development, the plan also had provisions for 98 acres of continuous parkland to be laid on top of the highway, including four waterside parks and a three-mile-long tree-lined promenade and bike path on the waterfront. Around 90% of the funds for the project were to come from federal aid. The project was abandoned on September 19, 1985 due to political as well as environmental objections, particularly concerns over spending in Congress as well as concerns over the Hudson River striped bass habitat by the courts. Much of the estimated $2 billion in federal funds allocated for the Westway was diverted to mass transit.
A new plan for development was announced in 1992 by then-Governor Mario Cuomo and then-Mayor David Dinkins, targeting the Jacob Javits Center, Chelsea Piers, and Pier 40 as key locations for commercial development. The 1992 memorandum also created the Hudson River Park Corporation, later renamed the Hudson River Park Conservancy, as a government agency constituted of members appointed by the governor and mayor.Construction of the Chelsea Piers complex began in July 1994, opening in stages beginning in May 1995.The development plan for the rest of the park was signed in September 1998 by Governor George Pataki, dividing ownership of the land between New York State (the southern half, from Battery Parkto 35th Street) and the City (the northern half, from 35th Street to 59th). Both halves were leased to the joint entity now known as the Hudson River Park Trust. The plan also guaranteed that half of several locations, including Piers 40, 76, and 84, would be reserved for parkland.The park was initially expected to be completed by 2003, with construction costs estimated at around $300 million.The first complete section of the park opened in 2003 in Greenwich Village.
2010s After two decades of planning and construction, much of the park remains incomplete. Half of the park was complete by 2009, and as of 2015 70 percent of the park has been finished, at a cost of nearly $500 million.
Parts of the Hudson River Park remained without power in the months after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, due to damaged electrical cables. As a result, the Hudson River Park temporarily limited hours after nightfall in the park. Before Hurricane Sandy, the park's paths alongside the river remained open until 1 am EDT. After Hurricane Sandy, the park worked to return to normal operating hours once they restored power to affected areas. Full power was restored in June 2014, 20 months after the storm, with total damages accumulating to $32 million.
By June 2013, the Hudson River Park trust was in debt. A bill passed in June 2013 ended maintenance of a section of the park in Battery Park City, as well as the purchase of liability insurance, which would give $750,000 in savings to the park. However, the park was to run a $8.5 million deficit for fiscal year 2014. To further ameliorate the debt, the bill provided for the trust to make passengers pay to board sightseeing cruise ships in the park. Finally, the bill allowed the park to sell air rights across the street from the park, specifically St. John's Terminal across from Pier 40. In addition, Pier 40, which would have garnered large profits for the park, would cost more than $100 million to renovate.StructuresPoints of interest along the park's route include:
• Battery Park at its south end
• Battery Park City
• The World Trade Center and surroundings
• Brookfield Place and Winter Garden
• Chelsea Piers
• Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
• Riverside Park at its north end