City To Spend $100 Million For An Esplanade On The Upper East Side Waterfront

Manhattan will soon be completely surrounded by trees and bike lanes as the city looks to fill the gap with a new greenway.

By Jeff Vasishta May 1, 2017

Soon there won’t be a spec of Manhattan waterfront which is not surrounded by bucolic walkways, trees and parks. For those familiar with the treacherous urban obstacle course along the East River waterfront in years past, news that the remaining unfinished section will soon be the recipient of $100 million in city beautification funds must surely be a cause for celebration.

The strip between East 61st and 53rd streets will include a bike bath, walking space tree and gardens. But it’s not as if the noise and pollution of the FDR Drive will be dampened anytime soon. Construction won’t start until 2019 and is likely to finish three years later. The esplanade will fill one of the last gaps in the 32-mile green loop around Manhattan which has been transformed in recent years with such projects and the gleaming new condos which invariably accompany them.

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“We’re jump-starting the completion of a Greenway linking the entire Manhattan waterfront,” the mayor said in a statement. “The Hudson River Greenway has vastly improved quality of life on the West Side, and we want families in every corner in the borough to have that same access to bike, walk and play along the water. This is the first of many big investments we’ll make as we bring the full Greenway to reality.”

For cyclists and running enthusiasts, it means they will finally be able to make a complete loop of Manhattan unimpeded.

“This is tremendously welcome news for anyone who has experienced the inhospitable conditions that cyclists and pedestrians currently face as they attempt to make their way along the East River waterfront,” he said in a statement. 

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“For too long, the East Side has suffered from the lowest ratio of open space to residents and workers in the city.”

Next up for the Manhattan’s waterfront conceptual design this summer linking the East Side Greenway between 125th and 132nd streets, according to Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. The city is becoming something of an old hand at the greening of it’s historically pot-holed and war torn streets. Having finished Riverside Park on the West Side between West 81st and 91st streets, an 11-mile greenway was created which stretched from the Battery to the George Washington Bridge.

There may be more, though to sprucing up the city than giving people a pleasant place to exercise. It’s no coincidence that these waterfront esplanades have come to fruition during an NYC building boom.

“When you look at where all the millennials and all the 24-35-years-olds—and that’s sort of the richest pool of where these employers want to get their staff from—you see the growing neighborhoods of the waterfront of New Jersey, the waterfront of Brooklyn and downtown from Chelsea to the tip of Manhattan,” said Marty Burger, CEO of Silverstein Properties, which has led construction of the World Trade Center.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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