Pier 26 is open!

Pier 26, the piece of Hudson River Park that stretches out from City Vineyard just north of (as logic would dictate) Pier 25, is open to the public as of this afternoon, and beautiful. There are a hundred ways to enjoy this park, and we should all get to it.

Designed by Philly landscape architects OLIN, the pier was intended to satisfy the park’s mission of supporting and studying the ecological environment. So there’s a walkway leading down to the river’s surface that the park is calling a Tide Deck (it’s close to underwater at high tide), an engineered tidal marsh, indigenous plantings in the river and across the pier. (The lower walkway is open only for guided visits and students with park education staff.)

But there’s also a cantilevered walkway over the tidal marsh; a “sports court” that will open up playing time for younger kids; a sunning lawn; lounge chairs facing west on the elevated deck and south along the middle of the pier; and two sets of swinging benches installed in steel shade structures.

And there are long paths and ramps heading west just begging for a good sprint (not by me, mind you, but let’s say the 8 and under set).

It’s the first pier to open in the park in a decade, but a few more will come online in the next two years, including the Gansevoort Peninsula, Pier 55 (at 15th Street), and Pier 97 (at 57th). The pier cost $37.7 million to build and was funded by Citi, it’s neighbor immediately to the east; the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation; and the city. Design funds for the tide deck came from New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund.

Still left unbuilt and in its fundraising stage is the estuarium planned for the upland area just southeast of City Vineyard — a building that will include an education and research center, some sort of hands-on science exhibit and a science-themed playground. Designed by OLIN and with play features by the Danish playground design firm Monstrum, the playground will be similar to the new one at Chelsea Waterside Park at 23rd Street, with giant sturgeons that are the main play features.

Once that’s completed, the Tribeca section of the park will be fully built out, and has to be one of the best features of our lifestyle here. We really are lucky to have it, especially in these times.

The park is open from 6a to 1a.