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Thread: New Harlem Piers Are Rising

  1. #1

    Default New Harlem Piers Are Rising

    May 12, 2006
    After Almost 50 Years, New Harlem Piers Are Rising

    Maritta Dunn, an advocate for the Harlem Piers, and Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, chairman of Community Board 9, at a site near 125th Street.

    Maritta Dunn remembers, as a child in the 1950's, walking with her family to the Harlem Piers to watch ferries travel across the Hudson to Palisades Amusement Park. Although her family was not allowed into the amusement park because they were black, they liked to go to the piers to watch people board the boats.

    The Harlem Piers, once a bustling transportation center and recreation attraction at the western end of 125th Street, were demolished nearly 50 years ago. But after years of plans to revitalize the area, construction is under way on a new set of piers on the Harlem waterfront scheduled to be completed next spring.

    For Ms. Dunn, restoring the piers has been a lifelong campaign.

    "I've been waiting 45 years for this to happen and I wasn't going to die without seeing this through," said Ms. Dunn, the former chairwoman of the local community board and one of the project's chief advocates.

    The $18.7 million publicly financed project calls for two piers to be built on the Hudson River between St. Clair Place and West 135th Street. One will be used as a dock for excursion boats and water taxis, while the second will be reserved for recreation, like sunbathing, and for fishing.

    In time, regular ferry service, a kayak launching area and a small restaurant may be added, officials said.

    Until construction started late last year, much of the area near the piers was a city-owned parking lot for several years, though it remained popular with fishermen.

    Eliminating the parking lot, said Adrian Benepe, the city's parks commissioner, will allow the bicycle and pedestrian paths to link the Harlem waterfront with other riverside parkland. "It's a huge deal," Mr. Benepe said. "This is the big missing link in the Hudson River greenway on the West Side of Manhattan."

    The other gaps in the greenway are between 135th and 145th Streets, where a bike and pedestrian path will be completed by the end of May, and between 83rd and 91st Streets, where work on a bike and pedestrian path is scheduled to start this fall and be finished in 2008.

    The lack of convenient access to the waterfront has been a sore point in Harlem since sections of what remained of the piers collapsed into the river in the 1960's and 70's. But even without serviceable piers, the area still called the Harlem Piers by some residents remained a local attraction. During the 70's, the Apollo Theater held summer concerts on the waterfront. And as the meatpacking plants that once dominated the neighborhood began to relocate to Hunts Point in the Bronx, developers proposed an entertainment pier for the area called Pier 1, though it was never built.

    Other plans also came and went: a marina; a sports pier similar to Chelsea Piers; a series of floating piers that could be used by sailboats; luxury housing; a floating theater on a barge; a bald eagle sanctuary; a floating parking lot; and a 35-story hotel that would have included a museum of Harlem history, a concert band shell and a dinner theater operated by Sylvia's Restaurant.

    "It wasn't easy because it's not that big a property and everybody had different ideas," said Representative Charles B. Rangel, whose district includes the area.

    The community rejected various plans, in part out of fear that waterfront access would be limited to those who could afford the attractions.

    "We didn't want to make this something for the haves, and the have-nots would have no access," Ms. Dunn said.

    So along with West Harlem Environmental Action, a private, nonprofit group, the local community board in 1999 proposed a waterfront park open to everyone, including fishermen, who have dropped their lines in the area for decades.

    The city's Economic Development Corporation agreed to use the community plan as the basis for redevelopment, and more ambitious and expensive ideas were scrapped. Financing was provided by the city and state governments and federal empowerment zone money.

    After making its way through the legislative approval process, however, the project was delayed for about a year by the Army Corps of Engineers out of concern that the new piers would disrupt fish spawning and migration routes. As a compromise, 50 "reef domes" concrete structures five feet in diameter and four feet high with holes cut out to allow fish to swim in and out will be placed at the bottom of the river near the piers.

    Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, the chairman of Community Board 9, the local board, said the completion could not happen soon enough.

    "It's been a long, long struggle," he said.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    Piers Project Advances

    Developers Hope to Complete Construction by Spring 2007

    Courteney Ervin

    Posted: 9/7/06

    Although work is still taking place in the water and on the wetlands , construction on the long-awaited Harlem Piers is on track for completion in spring 2007, replacing the ruins, inactive for almost fifty years, with publicly accessible attractions of the future.

    "The community has been waiting 46, almost 47, years for something to happen in that direction," said Maritta Dunn, former chairwoman of Community Board 9 and a vocal supporter of the Hudson riverfront development between W. 133rd Street and St. Clair Place for years.

    Since breaking ground in October 2005, the $18.7 million project has been going as planned, following the Harlem Piers Master Plan. This plan was formed after West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. joined forces with CB9, working with the residents of Harlem to create a waterfront park that could be enjoyed by all.

    "We believed it was really important to get this community involved in planning for its future," said Cecil Corbin-Mark, WE ACT Director of Programs. The neighborhood's goals were to change the poorly utilized riverside to an open area with a lot of plant life, and this was used as the foundation of the finished designs. Corbin-Mark said, "We wanted to solidify the community conceptual plan."

    After reviewing and revising several possibilities, it was decided that the area would be entirely public. The final plans consist of a commercial pier for ferries, a recreational pier for the public, and a park complete with a bike path and other amenities. There are hopes for a kayak launch pier at the northern end of the park, similar to those at 56th and 72nd Streets, but construction of this pier and other possibilities are saved for the future.

    Dunn said, "When you take Manhattan and fold it in half ... Harlem comes out right in the middle. We've always referred to it as 'the jewel in the crown.'" Residents like Dunn hope that the end of construction on Harlem Piers will bring a little more light to that jewel.

    Copyright 2006 Columbia Daily Spectator

  3. #3


    awesome. i love plans like these. Im so glad that in the past 5-10 years everyone finally started to realize how much our waterfront is neglected and how spectacular it could be.

  4. #4
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    Exactly. And we can already see the positive effects of it, in the huge numbers of people that are willing to live on these previously neglected waterfronts all around the city. Hopefully, we'll be able to fund parks and recreational piers around most of Manhattan, and along most of Brooklyn & Queens shorelines.

  5. #5

    Default New Harlem piers are rising.

    New Harlem Piers are rising! These photos of the New Harlem piers were taken this weekend. Some more photos of the construction site can be found on this other thread.

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    Last edited by infoshare; December 3rd, 2006 at 10:49 AM. Reason: add link

  6. #6

    Arrow Harlem/Manhattanville Piers

    Construction on the Manhattanville piers is progressing nicely: despite the freezing temperatures and frozen waters. Another waterfront park may be blooming this spring. Also, I have noticed that there will be a new bike path (not in photos, sorry) linking the Manhattanville Piers with Riverbank State Park and the northern section of riverside park. This will make for one very scenic bike tour: all I need now is a bike.
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  7. #7


    And why, pray tell, did this take 50 years? Oh yeah, now I remember. Because Robert Moses, who we all now agree was such a fine man, stopped Riverside Park exactly where the black people started to live.

  8. #8
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    How dare ye ^^^

    We are now lionizing Mr. Moses

  9. #9

    Lightbulb Manhattanville Piers

    The latest development (photos taken this week) at the construction site is a dock/ramps: this will probably be for a water-taxi or small ferry boats.
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  10. #10

    Arrow Site Update: Harlem piers

    In the last photo (time stamped at 12:34) you can see a building in the background with a white roof. This building has been abandoned for many years; and from what I can see this building is not part of the new park project.

    If anyone knows what this building is and if there are plans to repair/remove it, please post the news here on this thread. My guess it is an abandoned sanitation marine transfer station.

    Last edited by infoshare; October 28th, 2007 at 11:24 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Hell's Kitchen


    The Tease Is Over: Greenway Link Delivers Delayed Gratification

    by Ben Fried on October 21, 2008

    We received two reports last night that the West Harlem Piers bike path -- a critical link in the Hudson River Greenway -- is finally open after several months of puzzling delay. (NYCEDC informed Streetsblog last week that the hold up was indeed due to problems securing materials for a safety rail.) Now the construction fence is down, and, as you can see in these photos from reader Paula Froke, cyclists are enjoying the unbroken stretch of greenway.
    Streetsblogger Urbanis cheers the end of a long wait:

    After raising a stink about it a few weeks ago, I was amazed to discover on my ride home this evening that the West Harlem Piers bike path was open -- yes, all the fencing was removed, and I sailed free and clear along the new bike path all the way to 135th Street, where it connects with the existing bike path running around Riverbank State Park. Not having to brave ten blocks of traffic on Riverside Drive was a dream.
    More piers pics from Paula after the jump.

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