Visiting Little Island: The Newest Park in New York
When seeing Little Island for the first time, it looks like some otherworldly destination which is comprised of a bunch of odd-shaped concrete pods — for lack of a better description — in the Hudson River.
Opened on Friday, May 21, 2021, the greater than two acres of land which comprise Little Island would not be possible without the financial backing of the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation — which was founded in 1999 by Barry Diller and his wife Diane von Fürstenberg — in partnership with the leadership of the Hudson River Park Trust, as Little Island was conceived as a unique solution for the repair and reactivation of Pier 54, which was extensively damaged by Hurricane Sandy back in October of 2012.
“During your visit to Little Island, these are some of the big ideas I had in mind while designing the landscape”, according to this quote from Signe Nielsen, who is the landscape architect of Little Island. “One was to be sure the plants would be resilient to the many forces of nature, now and in the future. The majority of [all] the plants are native and selected to create habitat for pollinators and bird species. Another design consideration was to choose plants that offer year-round character, so each time you come, the colors and textures evolve in response to the seasons. The best way to appreciate the garden is by walking through it — become immersed or see the plants against the gorgeous backdrops of the river or skyline. Call it a choreography of seasonal delight.”
Although the amphitheater — which is known as The Amph — provides free live entertainment from artists for the majority of its programming, the events are ticketed.
Of the three overlooks on Little Island, the Southwest Overlook arguably provides the most stunning views of Manhattan, Jersey City, and Lower New York Harbor. The photograph above shows Jersey City on the other side of the Hudson River…
…and you can also catch a prime view of the World Trade Center and lower Manhattan from this overlook, with the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge in the background on the right side of the above photograph.
Hoboken Terminal at 1 Hudson Place in Hoboken in New Jersey was built in 1907 and was the terminus of the Erie Lackawanna railroad. It is currently served by nine New Jersey Transit commuter rail lines, one Metro-North Railroad rail line, various New Jersey Transit buses and private bus lines, the Hudson–Bergen Light Rail, the Port Authority Trans Hudson — which is better known as PATH — rapid transit system, and ferry vessels which are operated by NY Waterway.
Look closely out in the distance and the Statue of Liberty can be spotted, with the hills of Staten Island in the background.
This photograph shows a closer view of the World Trade Center and the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, which connects Interstate 278 between Brooklyn and Staten Island.
The highest hill on Little Island rewards visitors with a view of The Amph, the lower west side of Manhattan, and the Empire State Building in the background on the right side of the above photograph.
The South Bridge is illuminated as dusk falls on the city of New York.
This view of Little Island includes the Empire State Building on the left and the South Bridge on the right. Little Island is a maritime botanic garden with 35 species of trees, 65 species of shrubs, and 270 varieties of grasses, perennials, vines, and bulbs — many of which have been selected for their fragrance and attractiveness to birds and pollinators.
In addition to free entertainment, spinning discs, dance chimes, spun chairs, and an Instrument for All where anyone can walk up and play it are also available for use at no cost. Also, free art creation activities which last for an hour take place around the mobile art creation hub which is known as the Art Cart.
The supporting structure of Little Island is comprised of concrete piles rising up from the Hudson River, emerging from in between the leftover wood piles of Pier 54 and Pier 56, which were largely preserved to maintain habitats for aquatic life.
Viewing the supporting structure from the South Bridge gives a closer look to the interesting design underneath the island itself.
No admission is charged to access Little Island from the Hudson River Park Esplanade on West Street in Manhattan via two bridges: the North Bridge near West 14 Street; and the South Bridge between West 13 Street and Little West 12 Street.
Pier 55 in Hudson River Park
West 13th Street
New York, New York 10014
Hours of operation are between 6:00 in the morning and 12:00 midnight every day.
The closest subway station is at Eighth Avenue and West 14 Street, which serves the A, C, E, and L train lines. Other subway stations which are close by are located at Seventh Avenue and West 14 Street, which serves the 1, 2, and 3 train lines; and at Sixth Avenue and West 14 Street, which serves the F and M train lines. The M11, M12, and M14D SBS buses stop at West 14 Street and Tenth Avenue. Chelsea Market is the nearest exit on the High Line to Little Island, which is only two blocks away.