Valentine No. 67

For the eighth summer, I’ll be spotlighting little aspects of life here that I love. To see the previous Valentines, click the Valentine tag at the end of the post.

There are a lot of reasons to love Hudson River Park, but my favorite part—especially in the Tribeca section—is the 893-foot wooden boardwalk that runs from Laight to Watts. There’s nothing else like it anywhere in the park, and walking on it can make you forget that you’re in the city. Moreover, it was an elegant solution to a difficult design problem. In a 2009 post, landscape architect (and Tribeca resident) Signe Nielsen of Mathews Nielsen, which was partially responsible for the Tribeca section, explained the issue:

The [park’s] sections shared a significant challenge: narrowness. “What do you do with 70 to 80 feet?” asked Nielsen. As we walked north from the park entrance at Laight Street, she recalled with relief that the federal government agreed to waive the requirement for a breakdown lane on the southbound section of West Street. “That saved us eleven feet of park.”

Even if the architects didn’t have much in the way of space, they did have freedom to design independently of the other sections. The most distinctive aspect of the northern Tribeca section—which runs from Laight Street up to Pier 40, at Houston—is the boardwalk extending over a series of manmade hills. At its peak, the boardwalk is five feet above the esplanade; that’s also the highest spot in the entire park. “We wanted to create another path in a narrow space,” said Nielsen. “But if the boardwalk were the same level as the esplanade, what would be the point?”

It’s also the only place in the city I’ve ever seen a praying mantis….



  1. Also the nesting place of resident Mockingbirds. Recently enjoyed their vocalizations on an evening walk on the boardwalk. When the traffic on the highway stopped for lights, they filled the night with their wonderful chatter.

  2. Also a favorite nesting place for resident Mockingbirds. Enjoyed their vocalizations on a recent evening walk. When the traffic on West stopped for lights, their wonderful chatter filled the night.

  3. i completely agree – by far the most elegant, subtle and inspired part of the park. our six year old daughter calls it the “secret dune path” because of the gentle ups and down and beach grasses…