This blog was created as a part of a joint internship program between Project for Public Spaces and Urban Vision in Mumbai, India. Photos and text by Nikita Malviya and Himadri Panchal.
Riverside Park in New York City is a beautiful linear public space that bustles with activity. It is located along the Hudson River on Manhattan‘s western shore, and it covers an area of approximately 330 acres.
With densely populated residential neighborhoods just adjacent to it, Riverside Park is a well-loved destination for leisure and recreation. The park itself is split into various sections that flow seamlessly into each other while still retaining their distinct character and unique mix of activities.
From tree canopies to lush green paths for jogging, children’s playgrounds, scenic walks along the trail, food vendors and boozy stop-overs, Riverside Park offers something for almost everyone. Due to its proximity to residents, public transit, and the waterfront, the park attracts a lot of attention and users. You can sit and enjoy the views, play with friends, or relax with a book. If you get bored, you can grab a bite or socialize at one of the area’s cafés.
The Riverside Conservancy looks after the maintenance, restoration, and physical improvements of the park. Also helping this space to become a true destination, the conservancy organizes numerous social events, activities, camps, and programs for New Yorkers.
With its numerous daily activities and programs, the park helps to underscore the clear connection between urban life and active living. It provides a comfortable and continuous network of paths attracting its main users: joggers and bicyclists. Additionally, organized programs like yoga by the water and exercise bootcamps give people the opportunity to turn their work-outs into social activities.
The views from the benches of the park facing the river are a great draw for park visitors. The skyline and the bridge connecting the states of New York and New Jersey catch the eye and create a pleasant backdrop.
The park is dotted with seating, not only along the trails but also on strategic lookouts. However, by being too prescriptive in location and view-shed, many of these seats do not receive much use. The well-maintained lawns, on the other hand, get plenty of use by picnickers, joggers and sunbathers on a sunny day.
Numerous and diverse options for food attract people to a space and make it more lively. Despite being home to Pier I Café and Boat Basin Café, Riverside Park could easily be filled with even more food stalls, carts, and eateries along the path to make it more prone to lingering and socialization.
Walking along the park, you may find yourself asking “where am I?” Unfortunately, Riverside Park lacks adequate way-finding and maps which can act as a deterrent to newcomers and make it difficult to figure out the ins and outs of the space. Once visitors become familiar, however, it is evident that Riverside Park works well as a neighborhood destination that people return to, again and again.