Streams

Get Outta Here! Take a Field Trip to West Harlem Piers Park

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's been six months since West Harlem Piers Park opened, finally connecting Riverside Park to Riverbank State Park and providing an unbroken, no-dismount bike ride from the Battery to 200th Street. 

With winter upon us, there are likely fewer occasions to stroll this stretch of riverfront, check out the cool water feature, or even clean the fish we’ve just caught. But hey, you'll have the place to yourself.

And the future of Marine Transfer Station that hovers over the park is still contested. As we reported when the park first opened, the fate of this “relic of the city’s waste disposal infrastructure, and arguably of environmental racism…is undecided.” That's still true, but like all relics that find themselves surrounded by shiny new environs, it is still worth checking out. It's an example of the layers of abandoned infrastructure that offer the city opportunities to imagine new uses.

And besides, you can go warm up at any of the restaurants (try Covo’s black linguine) on 12th Avenue’s restaurant row. According the Real Deal’s Alison Gregor,“Restaurants in the renovated freight house at 701 West 135th Street are the latest additions to the culinary cul-de-sac that is forming in the shadow of the filigreed Riverside Drive viaduct, a micro-neighborhood that some real estate brokers are calling "ViVa," for Viaduct Valley.” While I’m doubting that ViVa will live long in the annals of place marketing, this little neighborhood is definitely worth an excursion.

Cassim Shepard edits the urban design blog, Urban Omnibus, a project of the Architectural League of New York.

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