At 550 acres in size, Hudson River Park is Manhattan’s second-largest park, trailing only Central Park. Hudson River Park begins at Pier 25 (in the fashionable Tribeca neighborhood) and extends northward for some four-and-a-half miles along Manhattan’s West Side, with its northern terminus being located near Pier 97, not far from the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Along the way, visitors will encounter plentiful opportunities for outdoor recreation, and pass close by many of the city’s most popular attractions, neighborhoods, and more.
Hudson River Park History
Hudson River Park exists today as one of New York City’s most popular public parks, a recreational oasis in the midst of Manhattan’s hustle and bustle, but as is so often the case, it hasn’t always been this way. Just a quarter-century ago, the land now occupied by Hudson River Park was a working waterfront, home to industrial warehouses, commercial barges, and decaying piers. With the decline of Manhattan’s waterfront as a center for industry and commerce, plans were made to revitalize the area. In 1998, the New York State Legislature passed the Hudson River Park Act, establishing the Hudson River Park Trust and entrusting them with the task of cleaning up and modernizing the waterfront.
Hudson River Park remains very much a work in progress, with numerous new amenities set to be unveiled to the public in the years to come. Still, under the guidance of the Hudson River Park Trust it has become a beloved attraction—a magnet for all those seeking out a bit of fresh air and green space in the shadows of one of the most densely populated places in the United States.
What’s at Hudson River Park
At its core, Hudson River Park is a lovely place to explore when you visit it with no real priorities in mind. It’s a great spot to go for a walk, have a picnic, or sit and watch the sunset over New Jersey. It’s full of basketball courts, baseball fields, skate parks, and flower beds just waiting to be discovered.
Many visitors to Hudson River Park rent a bike, play miniature golf on a massive 18-hole course, or go for a boat ride. If this sounds appealing to you, well, you’re in business, because you’ll be spoiled for options here. Kayaking, sailing, and rowing are all activities available throughout the park. The Trapeze School of New York even runs programs here out of Pier 40!
One of Hudson River Park’s newest components is Little Island, which opened to the public in May of 2021. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the man responsible for Vessel, Little Island occupies Pier 54 and 55, just north of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Essentially a park nestled within a park, Little Island features thousands of flowers, hundreds of trees, and regular summertime arts programming.
Other highlights of Hudson River Park include Pier 40, which many consider the heart and soul of the original park; Pier 51, with its family friendly playground; Piers 59-61, better known as the “Chelsea Piers” and a sporting paradise; Pier 84, home to a popular fountain and many concession options; and Pier 86, where you’ll find the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Tips for Visiting Hudson River Park
- Hudson River Park itself is open between the hours of 6:00am and 1:00am. However, given the diversity of activities available within the park, be advised that hours for individual attractions can vary quite widely. If there’s something particular you’ve got your heart set on doing while here, be certain to check its hours of operation in advance of your trip.
- Likewise, several of the more popular attractions here—including the Trapeze School of New York—closed during certain seasons. It’s another thing to keep in mind as you plan your excursion.
- There are three places to rent bikes in Hudson River Park: Pier 40, Pier 79, and Pier 84.
- If Little Island is on your “to-do list,” remember that visiting it on weekends requires you to procure a timed-entry pass. This pass is free, but you’ll need to have it in advance. You can acquire it by going to the Little Island official website.
- Parking in Manhattan is always a chore, but those visitors traveling via car should note that there are parking garages servicing Hudson River Park. They can be found at Pier 40 and Pier 83, and they’re self-service garages available 24-7.