If you’ve ever tried to walk the Manhattan waterfront (if you haven’t, The Great Saunter is happening again May 6th!), you probably know of the gap on the east side, just north of the United Nations. Mayor Bill de Blasio has just announced a $100 million project in the Executive Budget, as part of a larger effort to finally connect the 32 miles of the borough’s waterfront.
A new esplanade will be built between 53rd Street and 61st Street, with the design phase commencing this year and construction completed by 2022. This important stretch at the southern end of Sutton Place South, adding access to the waterfront where currently apartments sit elevated above a covered portion of the FDR Drive, continuing under the Queensboro Bridge, to the abandoned rollercoaster-like structure at 61st Street, an art installation by Alice Aycock from 1994. The new esplanade will be built over the East River, and initial approvals have already been obtained from the US Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Local elected officials and heads of civic organizations hope that the completed East River Greenway will offer to residents and visitors similar benefits as the West Side Greenway has provided. An additional $5 million in the budget will be used to assess how to close the remaining gaps along the waterfront. The current renderings released by the Office of the Mayor are by no means actual, as the design phase has not yet begun, but are used to show the potential of the project.