From tow pound to public park, Pier 76 officially opens on Manhattan’s West Side

June 10, 2021

Photo: Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Flickr

A former police tow pound on the Hudson River is now a public park. Pier 76 officially opened on Wednesday following a three-month, $31 million construction project that involved stripping the tow pound to its frame and removing the sides and roof. The structure’s steel skeleton remains at the 5.6-acre site, with new areas to walk around, benches to sit and enjoy the waterfront views, and panels highlighting the area’s history as a major shipping port.

Photo: Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Flickr

The site measures about 245,000 square feet, or about four football fields, and extends 725 feet into the river. The newly opened public park is temporary, with more permanent plans with insight from the community set to be developed by the Hudson River Park Trust.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday and announced Pier 76 will serve as an outdoor screening site for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The festival, the first in-person event of its kind to take place since the pandemic, kicked off on Wednesday with 13 showings of “In The Heights,” including one at Pier 76.

Pier 76 also features a propeller from the S.S. United States passenger line, the record holder for the fastest passenger ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. After 400 transatlantic voyagers, the ship was retired from service in 1969.

Photo: Don Pollard/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Flickr

Photo: Don Pollard/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Flickr

“As New Yorkers continue to make incredible strides in defeating COVID, we must focus on rebuilding and revitalizing our state for a post-pandemic future and nothing is more emblematic of this historic effort than Pier 76,” Cuomo said in a press release.

“For years, Pier 76 was an eyesore that blighted the west side. However, thanks to the hard work of so many New Yorkers, this gorgeous new park will provide residents and visitors with incomparable access to outdoor recreational opportunities and cultural attractions like the Tribeca Film Festival for years to come.”

Built in the 1960s for loading barges, Pier 76 has been used as a tow pound by the NYPD since 1977. When the New York State legislature passed the Hudson River Park Act in 1998, designating four miles of the waterfront as park space, lawmakers included the relocation of the tow pound in their mandate.

An amendment to the Act required the city to transfer possession of the site to the state, but it wasn’t until the end of this past January that the site was vacated by the NYPD. Hudson River Park Trust will lease the pier from NY State Parks. The state began demolition of the tow pound in March.

Pier 76 joins the newly opened Little Island at Pier 55 as part of Hudson River Park. Other projects coming together along the river include Gansevoort Peninsula, to be home to a resilient “beach,” and Pier 26, which opened last September and boasts indigenous plants, recreation fields, a man-made rocky tidal marsh, and a cantilevered walkway.

“It’s always a joyous day for Hudson River Park and New York City when we can offer more open space for the public to enjoy,” Noreen Doyle, the president and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust, said. “We thank Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Kulleseid and their staffs for delivering acres of new interim park area to the public in record time, just in time for the Tribeca Film Festival and all the fun that summer in New York City always brings. We look forward to welcoming the public to our newest park pier.”


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