Science playground at Pier 26 is open and ready for kid action

Sure, I could have crawled around on the new playground at Pier 26 myself, but I thought it was better for all involved if I sent in the real experts: my 6-year-old neighbor Keller, her younger brother, Samuel, and her pal from 234, Rowan. They were among the first visitors to the new section of park at the end of N. Moore, the playground part of what will be the estuarium — an education center for the Hudson River estuary — on that upland section of park next to City Vineyard.

“It was raining but I didn’t really notice because I was in the fish’s belly,” Keller said. And she said she would want to come back with her friend Lily, who’s a good climber and, it sounds, has nerves of steel. “I’m a good climber but I get nervous.”

The playground features two monumental play structures — designed by the pier’s architects, OLIN, and custom fabricated in Denmark by the playground designers Monstrum — in the shape of two endangered species native to the Hudson: the Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon. Kids can climb inside the two structures and explore fish anatomy, such as a sturgeon’s swim bladder, or just hang out and play. There are slides, nets for climbing, viewing windows from high up in the tail.

“There are fish here — not real ones, but they look like a real thing,” Keller said. “Oh and we’re studying fish in school so that was cool. But there wasn’t blood like when Francine cut the fish open.” Phew.

The Hudson River Park Friends Playground Committee raised nearly $4 million for the construction of the playground starting with a $1.3 million matching gift from Tribecan Mike Novogratz. Councilman Chris Marte and Borough President Mark Levine also contributed funding for the project.

“As a former science teacher [he taught bilingual math science at JHS 149 in the South Bronx as a Teach For America corps member] I love HRPT’s integration of creative play with an age-appropriate lesson in local marine biology,” Levine said.

Fundraising continues for the estuarium, while the Hudson River Park Trust has chosen a comprehensive design team led by the Tribeca-based architects Sage and Coombe.


1 Comment

  1. Are they intending to plant any trees around the playground in the spring? It seems like there’s almost no shade at all. It’ll be a scorcher in the summer.