Pier 42 is a new park space that opened in the summer of 2013. Paths to Pier 42 brings neighborhood residents, artists, designers and community organizations together to activate this park space on the Lower East Side Waterfront with collaborative installations and public events. The project builds on neighborhood advocacy to create more accessible green, open space on the waterfront, by increasing access and creating public uses of Pier 42 while it awaits permanent transformation over the next several years.
From 2013-2015 Paths to Pier 42 offered workshops and activities with artists and designers to help imagine and realize what the site could become; held an annual celebration of completed projects and a summer schedule of free public events; and maintained the art projects and temporary park for community members to enjoy with family and friends.
From 2016-2017, Paths to Pier 42 hosted several free public events with the support of State Senator Daniel Squadron and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Construction on the permanent park began in Fall 2017.
Pier 42 was built on the East River waterfront in 1967 as a newsprint terminal, later importing bananas for an affiliate of Dole. It was the last operating cargo pier in Manhattan, closing in 1987 (read the New York Times article on Pier 42 here). Once closed, the pier remained unused and inaccessible to residents for decades.
Between 2008-2009 the Lower East Side Waterfront Alliance engaged community members in the Lower East Side and Chinatown in order to develop a community vision for the East River waterfront and Pier 42, creating an alternate proposal to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC)’s plan for redevelopment. The EDC’s plan, which included proposals for high-end uses for this public land, was not seen as responsive to community needs and had the potential to increase the pace of gentrification in the neighborhood. The resulting community-driven plan, titled “A People’s Plan for the East River Waterfront,” presented a different vision for Pier 42, one embraced by area residents. Shortly afterward, initial funding was secured to kick-start the process for converting Pier 42 into public parkland, including a new “community master planning” process.
Since the long-term capital funding and construction process will take several years, the Paths to Pier 42 partners have been working with State Senator Daniel Squadron and NYC Parks to create a temporary park on Pier 42 in anticipation of the permanent project. The park opened in 2013 and has reopened each spring and summer through a collaborative process where neighborhood residents and community organizations work directly with artists and designers to develop installations and activities and help build the park. Family-friendly public programs are offered on site during the summer and early fall.
Paths to Pier 42 is a project of Good Old Lower East Side, Hester Street Collaborative, Lower East Side Ecology Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council in partnership with NY State Senator Daniel Squadron, and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.