Pier 26 Concerts: The Fat Lady Is Singing

Fun by Joe Papeo Photography courtesy the Bowery PresentsMadelyn Wils, the president and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust, sent out an email saying that after this summer’s concerts are done, the park will no longer hold similar concerts in the future. (Heritage of Pride’s gay pride events—which seemed like more of an issue, because they were very long—go unmentioned.) Pictured: Fun., photographed by Joe Papeo Photography; courtesy the Bowery Presents.

Here’s the email:

On behalf of the Hudson River Park Trust, I am reaching out to update you on the latest developments regarding the Summer Concert Series at Pier 26.

First, we have heard your concerns and have determined that we will not schedule this concert series on Pier 26 again next summer.

For many years, HRPT has produced successful concerts with amplified sound on other park piers—namely Pier 54 and Pier 84. Based on our positive experiences there, we entered into as a pilot program, a one-season partnership with The Bowery Presents. We viewed the concert series as a way to enliven and bring a quality music series to an unfinished pier. We did not realize that sound from Pier 26 with this speaker configuration would reverberate in surrounding buildings to the degree that has been reported by many of our neighbors.

While our staff has heard from many people including Tribeca residents who are enjoying the experience of listening to this caliber of music from the beautiful Pier 26 setting, we are unhappy that the community is so divided, therefore the series will not return to this location.

Many of you already know from conversations with me and other members of our senior staff that our contract with The Bowery Presents extends for the rest of the season, and tickets have already been sold for another four concerts. While their contract allowed them to produce a fifth additional concert, we received their commitment this week that they will relinquish their right to do so.  Accordingly, the last concert date is September 7th.

We have hired a highly regarded acoustic consultant which is working with us, The Bowery Presents and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection to propose and develop mitigation. Sound levels at recent concerts have been reduced significantly as well.

What was meant to be a positive experience has ended up disturbing many of our neighbors, and we apologize for that and ask for your patience and understanding during the remaining four concerts. Moving forward, our goal is to bring unique and broad-ranging programming that serves Tribeca residents,  as well as others in New York City. Your feedback is essential to ensuring we are serving the community well, and we look forward to hearing from you about what we do well, and more importantly, what we can do better.

We hope to see you at our other free cultural offerings—including our RiverFlicks, Big City Fishing, MoonDance, Summer of Fitness, and River Tots programs, among others.

As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns at 311, info@hudsonriverpark.org, or (212) 627-2020.


Madelyn Wils

President and CEO, Hudson River Park Trust



  1. The Whiners won, what a shame.

  2. @Loren -The bad music being blasted at Stadium levels towards the city? It helped me better understand why David Koresh burnt his house down!

    I cannot imagine anything more out of tune with this neighborhood

    If you enjoy this kind of experience I think Spanish Harlem should certainly pique your interest – apparently it’s free there too.

  3. Sounds like Loren is Whining, what a shame. Loren, go put your Skullcandy or Beats headphones on and turn up the noize as loud as you want. Or just drive around the neighborhood with your car windows down while blaring your radio. You’ll be cool either way.

  4. It’s a little hard to divine what’s going on in Rohin’s comments. Is it a noise complaint or a complaint about the music choice, first of all? If it were music that YOU liked (and therefore what you’d call “good” music) would that mitigate the noise problem? Would it then not be “noise”? The symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms also contain some high volume dynamics. Would the music not be blasting at “stadium levels” if it dated from the 18th and 19th centuries?

    I don’t think the tragedy in Waco, which involved the murder of children, was instigated by an aesthetic response.

    Is there an outdoor concert series taking place in Spanish Harlem, or was that neighborhood simply chosen because many poor people live there, and poor people in your opinion have bad habits, and so they don’t belong here with rich people?

    I’m not judging, I’m asking. I’ve been hearing these concerts because I run along the highway. I thought the music I heard was awful, but I don’t begrudge people the right to listen to crap music. Outdoor concerts are a treat, they always have been. A chance to listen to music and gather with other like-minded folks in the open air. It’s summer. Kids are off from school and can enjoy pleasant, time-limited experiences without spending money. The concerts have ended at 10, which is certainly not very late. If I lived closer to these events I might spend the term of their duration muttering about how much I disliked the sound, as I do when a fire truck races past me to a fire blaring horns and sirens, but I’d somehow find the internal fortitude to briefly live with it.

    My inclination is think that these free outdoor concerts are benign to beneficial, but certainly not outrageous, and that complaints about them are indeed whining. When one lives in a city one must expect that not everything will be 100% to one’s liking all of the time. A building’s night lighting may be a tad too bright, a concert or street event may be a tad too loud. If one can’t handle that one should move to a place where one controls more of the outer environment. That’s why people move to the country, to mansions, to villas, to fortresses, etc.

    But again, not trying to arouse animosity. Maybe I’m not fully understanding…something.

  5. I must amend my rant: I do not know for a fact that these concerts are free of charge. But I’m done thinking about this and I suppose I may never find out. And I can live with that.

  6. @David – please amend your rants before you start your rants. If your neighbor is blasting their music which reverberates into your apartment, that’s not part of living in a city, it’s your neighbor being an uncourteous, selfish a**hole. This is just a rumor, but Madison Square Garden and the Lincoln Center are considering removing their ceilings and walls, so their neighbors can fully experience their events, whether they want to or not. You know, It’s city living, you’ll just have to deal with it…or move to David Koresh’s Waco…what’s left of it.

  7. @David
    Music sucked…
    Way Way too loud…
    Assault on my basic right to enjoy the relative quiet of my apartment…
    Beethoven rocks…
    Spanish Harlem in term of loud music playing in the streets… Not a racist comment, simply an observance of someone who has spent time there..

    I think it clearly shows why HRP is such a mess, anyone with half a brain would have figured out that the music should be directed away from the city rather than towards it… You don’t need a sound engineer to tell you that!

    Explains why HRP can’t seem to make a sandwich with two pieces of bread..

    No hostility.. Peace!

  8. Slight follow up to J. Smithers: I would not dream of demanding that my neighbor not have a party now and then. If they blasted me with sound at an unacceptable hour, or for hours and hours on end, I would take it up with them.

    But if every two weeks or so, just during the summer, they wanted to have a party for three hours and end it at ten sharp – yeah, that’s city life.

    Nor would I comment to them on the quality of their music, or comment about the guests at their party, or anything else that’s not my business. I would just understand that from time to time they may have a party, and it may cause me to hear something I don’t want to hear for a little while. And that’s about where it would end. For me. But I respect everyone’s right to rail if they wish. That’s city life too I guess.

  9. I think we’re getting too philosophical here. The problem was the degree of loudness. Every concert: pop/classical/whatever should be loud enough for the concert goers to hear. It should not be so LOUD that neighbors blocks away must close their windows on a beautiful evening, turn on their air conditioners because the sound comes in anyway and they can’t hear the Yankees lose again and their Con Ed bill soars.

    It is a shame that so much seems to need to be an extreme. But thank you HRP for the decision not to repeat the concerts in a residential neighborhood. Hope they find an enjoyable venue for people who need really loud music.

  10. Does anyone know what are the plans for Pier 26? Erik?

  11. @Tony: There’s an estuarium (if HRP can find someone to run/pay for it): http://www.hudsonriverpark.org/vision-and-progress/planning-and-construction/tribeca

    The rest was in flux when I toured Pier 26 with Madelyn Wils: “As for the rest of the pier, the idea had been that it would be more about passive recreation, as opposed to Pier 25′s emphasis on activity. ‘But this area has changed so much. We’ll be talking to the community about what it should be.’ [said Wils].”

  12. The concerts were fun. You had to pay if you wanted to be on the Pier in front of the stage but as many in the neighborhood have complained about, it was completely available for free. I know some could sit on their terrace or simply go stand near the Pier and hear it fine. I have every intention of enjoying the next few performances for free and I think a better solution could have been reached rather than shutting the entire series down. It was mentioned in a previous blog that the real reason it was probably being shut down had nothing to do with the community outrage but because it was not proving profitable for the Event Promoters. Politicians look good and Promoters don’t lose any more money. I have a feeling that money was a bigger motivator than community complaints.

  13. i believe rohins point is the most effective. why would you ever point the speakers towards the population and not towards the river? seems like the best way to minimize effect and $$$.

  14. Thanks for the sanity, David. Reasoned opinion without stooping to personal attacks. How novel.

  15. I think the reason you don’t point the sound system at the river is that you can’t put the audience on the river. Also, if you piss off NJ you might end up with fun.’s lead singer’s head in your bed.

  16. Beats and Skullcandy, hmmm. I prefer my big old Koss headphones while listening to Karajan conducting the Eroica (on vinyl, yeah). I’m THAT cool. I wasn’t crazy about the music (Gaslight Anthem, woohoo), but it was fairly inoffensive and over relatively early. But Tribeca Mom is probably right — the paying audience was pretty sparse, so it was an experiment that failed all around. I hope the dog run isn’t amplified!

  17. @Loren
    Track#1? George Clinton – Atomic dog

  18. @Rohin — Now you’re talking!

  19. I live on Greenwich between Harrison and Franklin, and have to agree that the amplification was excessive. And 10 PM is not a reasonable ending time for those with small children. I think free concerts, etc. in our parks are GREAT – but let’s admit that these noise issues are valid concerns from neighbors. In our little Washington Market Park, I (and before me, John Jones) organized 6 free concerts every summer for years. We hosted an eclectic assortment of groups, including the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra and the Shakespeare Project. Events were amplified but concluded by 8 or 8:30, as the park closes by then. There is something about the nature of amplified music that invites overkill. (We’ve attended many a wedding where everyone has to scream in order to hear each other over the heavily-amplified DJ.) Hopefully, a compromise can be reached, satisfying the concertgoers, and our neighbors. Sheila

  20. When a different income level of folks lived nearby, these event sites were not such a big problem. But when people have shelled out multi-millions of dollars for river-front property, they get their voices heard… and they get their way.

    It’s just one of the many clashes that Bloomberg has set the stage for — increased highend residential living overtop low class tourist masses on the ground floors. Density is creating untenable situations and will soon effect property values. Eventually, blood will be shed. so sad. Thank you Bloomberg, and please leave office soon!

  21. This is so sad, because while I personally did not enjoy much of the music, many, many people did. I am sorry, but ending a concert at 8 or 8:30 tis sort of unreasonable for anything other than kids concerts. If we had a bunch of kids concerts out there, would the stroller pushers (of which I am one) be less offended?
    Pointing the speakers to the water seems potentially dangerous, in case of fire or other emergency.
    The performers were by and large of the same genre and attracting a relatively young audience. It would be really great to have more diverse performers from different genres. Summer stage has always been my favorite summer venue, but now this was–so close, free to stand on pier 25 to watch, with the sun setting as the back drop. I would have loved to see some flamenco, or qawali, or something other than mainstreamish pop.
    I hope that in the future, they reinstate concerts with more diversity. People should see this as a big boon for the community, not a nuisance. Get out there and enjoy your neighborhood!

  22. You Tribecans are a lucky lot. You had to put up with 5 noisy concerts on Saturday night that ended at 10 pm and managed to get the entire concert series ended. Bravo.

    Meanwhile, in Inwood, residents have for two years complained about concerts and DJs blasting at similar volumes from La Marina till 1 am, up to four or five nights a week, including Sunday. Plus massive traffic disruption and other quality-of-life related issues. The concerts are illegal and break all the rules of a Parks concession license, but the city does nothing because it’s all in the name of people having a good time.

    Want to trade places?

  23. @Doug “Reasoned opinion without stooping to personal attacks.”

    I did go on to kind of insult the entire state of New Jersey…but it’s just sibling horsing around, believe me. I’m on the peace train with Rohin.

  24. @David, Thank you.

    And yes, I agree that this ‘experiment’ didn’t quite work out.
    The series will end and the sun will come up like it does everyday.

    But some of the comments seemed so ‘its all about me’…