Riverbank State Park. Image via Dattner Architects
In a city that moves so fast that the Sunday edition of the New York Times comes out on Saturday, it is not surprising that New Yorkers might overlook some interesting factoids. For instance, New York City is home seven state parks! So, instead of enjoying a day inside other state parks filled with the ubiquitous lush greenery and a plethora of activities that might surely mean a couple of hours of driving—cityside state parks are but a subway ride away or possibly a short walk to the likes of the East River State Park on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, the Clay Pit Ponds State Park in Staten Island and the Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx.
One of the most popular, with its grassy stretches of pastoral idyll against a spectacular backdrop, is the 28-acre Riverbank State Park near 143rd Street (seen in the two images above). A multi-level facility set 69 feet above the Hudson River on Riverside Drive, it opened in 1993. What’s more, this park is the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Inspired by Japan’s urban rooftop designs, it was created on top of a now-odorless sewage treatment facility on the Hudson.
Sometimes referred to as New York’s best kept secret, the park offers a myriad of amenities and activities including the Riverside Promenade, picnic areas replete with tables, a carousel, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a 25-yard lap pool, and an eight-lane, 400-meter runner’s track. There are also five buildings outfitted with amenities like a 2,500-seat athletic complex with a fitness room and large restaurant. Also topping the list of waterfront pleasures is a 400-seat cultural theater, softball fields, tennis and basketball courts, a football/soccer field, playgrounds, docking facilities and a covered roller/ice skating rink. The covered rink, by the way, recently reopened after a $2.6 million makeover, and the New York Rangers were the first to slice the ice on opening day this past December.
A huge asset to the surrounding neighborhoods, this state park offers city dwellers not just the above-mentioned perks, but also tons of swimming programs, ice-skating lessons, adult education classes, senior activities and party spaces. Unfortunately, bikes and pets are not welcome.
“The park is such a huge asset to my business as well as the neighborhood,” said Ross Brown, a broker at Urban Compass who resides in Washington Heights. “Pointing out Riverbank State Park is a huge appeal to new renters and buyers, especially if they are not familiar with the neighborhood. Normally, a one-bedroom would go for $1,700 to $1,900 in this part of town, but some clients are willing to spend as much as $2,200 the unit if the listing is within a 10 block radius of Riverbank, especially if they know they’ll utilize the facilities on a regular basis.”
Currently, Halstead Property is leasing a studio at 34 West 139th Street for $1,595 per month. Inside a post-war building, it features floor-to-ceiling windows, hardwood floors and a generously sized separate kitchen. Common amenities include a rooftop garden, a health club and an on-site garage. Doorman service is 24/7.
Another beloved state park is the 12-acre Gantry Plaza State Park at 49th Avenue and Center Boulevard at Hunter’s Point in Long Island City. Set along the banks of the East River, the unobstructed city skyline views are unsurpassed. Though not as big as Riverbank, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful urban parks in the U.S. since opening in 1998.
Image courtesy of Will Steacy
Named for the apparatus used to load and unload cargo from rail car floats and barges as far back as the 1920s, two restored gantries remain as the Gantry Park Plaza’s focal point. Designed to offer circular wooden walkways juxtaposed with metal ones framed by willow trees and lush tall grass, this park lets die-hard fishermen try their luck at one of four piers (cleaning table included) before or after a peripatetic stroll along the river or a quick nap on a hammock. Photo fanatics–both newbies and professionals–love to get a money shot of Manhattan’s iconic skyline. The park is also replete with blooming gardens, benches, chairs and summertime hammocks.
The terrific playground that opened in 2010 is museum-worthy with its bold primary colors and futuristic shapes (a ship-like structure is a pirate-playing magnet for the kids) and a water play area debuted in 2012. Athletic types can head for one of the ball courts and picnickers (sans any type of grill) can easily find a table. There is a dog run on Vernon Boulevard and 48th Avenue, but if you promise to put your pooch on a leash, the garden area is at your disposal. When it comes to Macy’s spectacular fireworks extravaganza on the Fourth of July, upfront viewings are about as good as it gets. NOTE: After several years bedazzling the skies over the Hudson River, the celebration returned to the East River last summer.
As most New Yorkers know, the housing market in Long Island City has been white hot for years. Currently Town Residential is exclusively selling a rarely available two-bedroom condo at 46-30 Center Boulevard, which happens to be a stone’s throw from the park. Features include appliances by SubZero, Viking, and Bosch and a deep soaking tub and a mosaic marble floor in the master bath. The price is $1.749 million.
Aptsandlofts.com is currently the exclusive leasing and marketing agent for Gantry Park Landing, a new rental development just a block from the park. Count on lots of condo-like finishes and top-notch amenities. What’s left (the unit mix is studios to three-bedrooms) starts at about $3,300 a month.
“The branding behind Gantry Park Landing was completely centered around the park,” said David Maundrell, the founder and president of aptsandlofts.com. “We felt that associating the building with the waterfront’s landing and the park was imperative in distinguishing where the building is located.”
And of course, we featured this Powerhouse beauty with its dramatic windows and views of said park just this morning.