A Waterfront Oasis: East Midtown Greenway Underway

As temperatures plummet and holiday shoppers swell in the shopping districts, so too does one of Manhattan’s latest projects kick-off, aiming to beautify the area and expand on local park space. As of late November, contractors in Midtown commenced construction on the new East Midtown Greenway, a $100 million project that will stretch over 1.5 acres of waterfront park space along the East River. Parallel to FDR drive and stretching from 53rd to 61st streets, Mayor de Blasio views the undertaking as a major step toward “returning the waterfront of New York City to New Yorkers.”

The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway: The Story So Far

This is a single leg of a much larger foreshoreway along the island of Manhattan, stretching a full 32 miles of pedestrian space separate from motorways. The aim of a greenway is to add more undeveloped space in urban areas, creating more green space as a way to benefit the environment but also provide natural surroundings and recreation space for pedestrians. The East Midtown Greenway is just one more step toward adding more flora to a living city. Right now, the planned and developed portions of the overall Manhattan Greenway include three major prongs:

  • The Hudson River Greenway. The longest greenway of all three, this one stretches along the West Side, from Battery Park in the south to Dykman street further north. 
  • The Harlem River Greenway. This one at least in part follows the path of the old Harlem River Speedway, running uninterrupted from Dykman street all the way through Lower Highbridge Park at 155th Street.
  • The East River Greenway. The last portion runs from Battery Park all the way down to 125th Street, but there is a 1.3-mile gap where this latest project will be coming in at long last, narrowing it if not filling it completely. Funding for this has been in the works since at least 2017, according to the New York Times. 

What Remains of the Current Project, and What Is Still to Come?

For now, ground has only just been broken, so most of the East Midtown Greenway project remains to be done. Current plans include the following:

  • Creating a 40-foot wide esplanade along the whole of the waterfront for pedestrians and bikers. 
  • Renovating and extending Andrew Hasweel Green Park that will touch the greenway’s northern border. 
  • Adding a new pedestrian bridge that will be accessible for any visitors with disabilities. 
  • Developing a widened area for environmental programming near 53rd street that will also include an art installation by Stacy Levy.

The full scope of labor that will go into this will involve Skanska USA as construction manager, with engineering consultation firm Stantec in charge of landscape architecture and the full gamut of waterfront, electrical, structural, and civil engineering. 

The project, expected to be completed by 2022, promises to further the City of New York’s goal to create an uninterrupted path through Manhattan for bikers and pedestrians, but until then should provide a steady flow of jobs dedicated to completing their proposed vision. The project, once completed, will be maintained by the New York Parks Department.

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