A brand new park in New York City is offering a little bit of an island escape to city-dwellers and tourists alike. The “Little Island” as its called is situated right on the Hudson River is made up of 2.4 acres of land that hosts over 350 species of trees, shrubs, flowers, and more wildlife. Additionally, the park offers a new vantage point in order to gaze at the Big Apple. The park is accessible from West 13th Street and was built from 280 concrete piles, reminiscent of tulips, that rise and fall depending on the river’s water levels.
The park was developed by a partnership by the Diller von Furstenberg Family Foundation along with the Hudson River Park Trust. In a statement, Barry Diller shared: “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, to lounge and graze the landscape, and to be entertained, educated, and stimulated by our programming.” Diller is the husband of designer Diane von Furstenberg and their foundation has agreed to pay for the park’s maintenance for the next 20 years. The foundation had already invested $20 million in the High Line, a project that similarly transformed an abandoned area into an exciting architectural feat that promotes tourism.
The park also features a central plaza that will house food and beverage options, an amphitheater with 687 seats along with a smaller stage for more intimate performances. Planned performances include features from Broadway and American Ballet Theater performers.
The park’s landscape architect Signe Nielsen of landscape firm Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects shared with Travel + Leisure: “It’s intended to be a place to relax and I think we’ve been able to do that with the landscape by… masking the visual and even acoustical noise of the city so you can focus inward. It’s rare on a pier that you can focus inward. I think it’s going to be unlike any other park, let alone pier.”
Nielsen also said: “Our idea is for a visitor to leave the city as if going to Oz, to this whimsical, playful little island in the river. And the first part of what we hope is a fun experience is the journey to the island. As soon as you step off from the city, you’re beginning a transitional shift from land to water.”⠀
Janet Alvarez, longtime local resident, couldn’t contain her excitement about the new park. She shared with CNN: “I’m bursting with emotion. And to see people smiling and looking happy and with the mask off. It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood.” The park was meant to be opened much earlier, but suffered significant delays due to the pandemic and city-wide closures that ensued.
The park’s opening hours are from 6am until 1am, and reservations will be required between noon and 8pm. There is no entrance fee, but for now visitations must still be booked ahead of time online.