I got a first look at New York City’s much-anticipated ‘floating’ park
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
New York City’s newest park opened to the public today, Friday, May 21 — and it’s sure to dazzle.
Rising out of the Hudson River at Pier 54 near the intersection of 11th Avenue and 13th Street on a cluster of 132 concrete platforms of varying heights — local New York publication Gothamist describes them as “tulip-esque” — Little Island is poised to become a hit for New Yorkers looking for a retreat on the water away from the hustle and bustle of the big city that’s roaring back to life.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The project was initially dreamed up in 2013 by billionaire mogul Barry Diller, whose company IAC occupies the nearby Frank Gehry “iceberg” building on 18th street and the West Side Highway, and despite several setbacks, fierce opposition from several groups and a five-year construction timeline, the park opened to much fanfare on a sunny Friday morning, just as New York City began loosening or lifting altogether many pandemic-related restrictions.
Little Island is open daily from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., but capacity is capped right around 1,000 people, so it operates on a timed-entry system between the hours of 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are free, but a quick search on Little Island’s website shows no availability for the rest of May, meaning you should arrive between 6 a.m. and noon or after 8 p.m. if you’re especially eager to check out the new space for yourself.
Having just returned to New York myself, I certainly wanted to get an early look at the new park that I’d been seeing so much about on social media, so I made the quick journey over from Brooklyn to visit on opening morning, before it restricted access to those with reservations only.
Here’s what you can expect at this brand-new public attraction:
It’s visually stunning
There’s no denying it: When you approach Little Island from the street, it leaves an impression. The way the individual multi-height platforms seemingly rise and fall almost resembles waves coming into shore.
Thomas Heatherwick, famous in New York for designing the Instagram sensation known as The Vessel at Hudson Yards, is said to “have imagined Little Island as a magic carpet billowing in the wind,” according to Gothamist. Whatever the design looks like to you, it seems Heatherwick has shown lightning does indeed strike twice, judging by the number of iPhones I saw snapping pictures from every angle.
It doesn’t get any less impressive after entering the park, either. The landscaping is lush and beautiful, with numerous grassy knolls where I saw people stretching, meditating and of course just having a pleasant sit-down.
Per Gothamist’s reporting, there are over 100 trees on the floating park, along with 350 different species of flowers and benches carved out of black locust wood. Reportedly, the plant budget alone for this relatively compact space was a whopping $5 million — if you’re a lover of gardening you won’t want to miss this new park.
There are fun activities for all ages
In addition to simply enjoying the lush space by sitting on a bench and reading (it is a park, after all), Little Island has a few other tricks up its sleeve to keep visitors entertained. I noticed a few interactive musical installments while walking around, and they seemed to be a hit with children and adults alike.
And in the coming weeks, the park’s almost-700-seat amphitheater (known as The Amph) will host a range of programs, from concerts to ballet performances and family-friendly events.
There are also a few food trucks set up with shaded tables where you can enjoy a bite to eat or a beverage.
The views are incredible
One of the main draws of Little Island is the stunning vantage points it provides of Downtown and Midtown Manhattan, Hudson Yards, the Hudson River, Jersey City and Hoboken, New Jersey.
Thanks to the “hills” created by the individual concrete platforms beneath, the views are seemingly different from every point in the park.
One World Trade, otherwise known as the Freedom Tower, can be seen prominently from just about everywhere in the park, and the iconic art deco Empire State Building peeks out above other Midtown towers at various points. And due north are the shimmering glass buildings of Hudson Yards, Manhattan’s newest purpose-built neighborhood.
And while I wasn’t there to experience the sunset, I have to imagine they’ll be quite impressive looking out from the amphitheater over the Hudson River.
Little Island is a gorgeous new public space that’s definitely worth a visit — if you can get a reservation or are able to go during non-peak hours. As a result of the pandemic, life has shifted — perhaps irreversibly in ways — to the outdoors, and New Yorkers will rarely turn down an option to be outside, especially when the weather’s agreeable.
After well over a year of being told to stay inside, Little Island looks to be just the type of new attraction New Yorkers need.
All photos by the author
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees