9. Little Island is built where the Cunard steamship lines once operated

Aerial view of Little Island
Photo credit Michael Grimm

Little Island is built atop the remains of Pier 54 and Pier 55, which once served the glorious Cunard steamship lines. Cunard has a connection with almost all the major ships that came to or departed from New York City, some with unfortunate ends. The RMS Lusitania left from here in 1915, to be sunk by a German torpedo close to its destination. The Titanic was supposed to dock at neighboring Pier 59 but never made it. However, the RMS Carpathia which rescued survivors did dock at Pier 54.

Little Island’s fascinating engineering, led by Arup, enables the park to rise on 280 organically-shaped concrete piloti on top of which sit 132 concrete “tulips.” The piloti mix in with the pilings of the former piers, which were retained as much as possible. The design provides for an elevated vantage point while in the park, as well as offers a variety of different spaces to experience. With 350 species of flowers, trees, and shrubs, the lush park has a lawn space known as “The Glade,” a 687-seat amphitheater, as well as the provision of food and beverage vendors along a central plaza that contains seating.