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A Floating Oasis Called “Little Island” Is Now Open on NYC’s Waterfront

By Sarah Buder

May 25, 2021

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The 2.4-acre landscape known as Little Island is now open in the Chelsea Piers section of Hudson River Park in Manhattan.

Courtesy of Little Island

The 2.4-acre landscape known as Little Island is now open in the Chelsea Piers section of Hudson River Park in Manhattan.

Situated on the Hudson River along Manhattan’s west side, the 2.4-acre park opened to the public on May 21.

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Over the last year, New Yorkers relied on the green spaces within the city’s limits (such as Central Park in Manhattan or Prospect Park in Brooklyn) as a socially distanced respite from long periods in quarantine. And now that the Little Island public park on the Hudson River in Manhattan officially opened on Friday, May 21, there is one more easy-to-access urban oasis for New Yorkers and visitors alike to enjoy.

The sprawling landscape is designed by New York–based Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects and Heatherwick Studio, the British design firm behind the 150-foot-tall “Vessel” landmark (and Instagram magnet), which debuted in 2019 in the nearby Hudson Yards. Little Island—also referred to as Pier 55—replaces the remnants of Hudson River Park’s Pier 54, the site where Titanic survivors arrived to safety by rescue boat after the 1912 disaster. It is located just off West 13th Street in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

Little Island, also known as Pier 55, stands on 132 tulip-shaped concrete pillars anchored in the Hudson River.

The urban park stands on 132 tulip-shaped pillars that rise from the Hudson River. The concrete foundations range from 15 feet to 62 feet in height, creating what the architects describe as “an undulating support structure” for the landscape, which is intended to resemble a leaf floating on water. The park’s rolling hills, tree-lined walking paths, and open lawns provide visitors with classic views of the Manhattan skyline from a variety of vantage points. Food and drinks, including wine and beer, are sold at three stalls within the park. (No outside alcohol is permitted, but visitors are welcome to bring their own food.)

Additionally, a 687-seat amphitheater within the “floating” park oasis will feature a rotating program of live performances and educational workshops beginning in June. There will be a concert with the award-winning Broadway Inspirational Voices and a Pride weekend celebration with playwright and director Tina Landau, among many other events. To see the full schedule, visit littleisland.org/events.

A majority of the tickets for these offerings will be free or less than $30 thanks to a lease agreement secured by media mogul Barry Diller, who funded the project with fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg through the couple’s Diller–von Furstenberg Family Foundation.

The Manhattan park incorporates a 687-seat amphitheater, open lawns, and more than 350 species of trees, flowers, and shrubs.

“I hope Little Island will serve as a whimsical oasis for everyone who visits, a place to wander around and be happily surprised at every turn. . . and to be entertained, educated, and stimulated by our programming,” Diller said in a recent statement announcing the park’s opening.

Open daily from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., the park requires free timed entry reservations for guests ages three and up starting at 12 p.m. to help ensure social distancing. Tickets are released four weeks at a time on a rolling basis at littleisland.org.

This article was originally published on November 19, 2019; it was updated on May 25, 2021, to include new information.

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