Growing up in the 1960s, it seemed that all the neat stuff, except for the Verazano Narrows Bridge had been built back in the 1930s. Robert Moses, even though he didn't drive, had built all the bridges, tunnels and highways and an awful lot of the parks. There were giants in the earth then. Even the World Trade Center in the 1970s, didn't come close to really changing the psycho-physical landscape of the city. When the West Side Highway collapsed, our generation just wasn't up to maintaining it.
But now, in the double zeroes, there is something new and rather amazing happening in Manhattan south of 14th Street along the Hudson River. Before the West Side Highway collapsed, this was a dark and murky area with most of the waterfront sealed off from the public by working docks, truck yards and other such infrastructure. After the fall, the waterfront was sealed off by abandoned docks, truck yards and community activists, who didn't like the idea of turning the river front into a public amenity.
They may have stopped the West Way, as they called the replacement highway for the West Side Drive, so traffic runs alongside the new park, rather than beneath it, but the Hudson River is now open to everyone.
We usually start at the Chelsea Market on 9th Avenue and 19th Street, where we load up on goodies for our trek. Then we head down to the river and cross the roaring roadway to follow the promenade along the river. It starts out as a simple walk, with views of the river and New Jersey, but it gets better as one goes south and one gets views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Down past the big recreation center, past the Christopher Street Piers, past the Holland Tunnel ventilation pier, past the miniature golf course, one finally gets to the new Stuyvesant High School (the Stuy to those of us who attended) and a really neat park jutting out into the river. There are playgrounds here and green things and the parkland follows the water down to the World Financial Center with its "Palm Court". There is almost always a wedding going on here or outside. The WFC is a good place to stop for bathrooms or for the subway.
Otherwise, head south along the marinas and the nicely groomed walkways down to the Battery. (There are more bathrooms at the concession here). This area included an actual white sand beach back in the mid-70s, when the World Trade Center had just been finished, but in many ways, the promenade here is even nicer.
At the Battery, you can head south on the Staten Island Ferry, or
can cut inland and north for a subway or to the South Street Sea Port.
are usually so exhausted, we go for the train. It is great to see that
Hudson River is back and we can all enjoy it now.
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