Thomas Heatherwick’s Little Island Prepares for Spring Opening at Pier 55 in Chelsea, Manhattan

Little Island. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick

Work is nearing completion on Little Island, a 2.4-acre park over the Hudson River at Pier 55 in Chelsea. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick with landscape design by MNLA, and managed by the Hudson River Park Trust, the whimsical park is perched atop an undulating array of funnel-shaped concrete pods, with the aim of evoking the image of a leaf floating on water.

Little Island. Photo by Michael Young

Recent photos show that more trees and shrubbery of varying sizes and species have been planted along the slopes of the terrain since our last update in October. Turf has also been laid down around the center of the structure, and metal railings have been installed along the steps, paths, and ramps.

Little Island. Photo by Michael Young

Little Island. Photo by Michael Young

Little Island. Photo by Michael Young

Little Island. Photo by Michael Young

Little Island. Photo by Michael Young

Little Island. Photo by Michael Young

The steel frame of Cunard’s former Pier 54 remains fenced off while it serves as a gated access point for construction materials and vehicles to enter from West Street. This historical artifact will be preserved as a contextual piece of New York City’s waterfront history and will serve as one of the park’s two entranceways.

The former Pier 54 structure of Cunard . Photo by Michael Young

The park will contain a main central lawn and a playground for children, a 700-seat amphitheater called The Amph, a southeastern overlook at the tip of the park with 180-degree views, a second stage area with a hidden garden called The Glade, and a southwestern overlook perched 63 feet above the water that is accessed by a winding, tree-lined pathway. This pinnacle will provide visitors with views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and sunsets over the Hudson River.

The nearest subway stop is the 14th Street station at the intersection of Eighth Avenue and West 14th Street, with access to the A, C, E, and L trains. From the subway station, people will have to walk west two avenues to reach West Street and Hudson River Park.

Little Island is planned to open sometime this spring.

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51 Comments on "Thomas Heatherwick’s Little Island Prepares for Spring Opening at Pier 55 in Chelsea, Manhattan"

  1. David in Bushwick | January 30, 2021 at 9:10 am | Reply

    That railing looks like a temporary snow fence. It’s a very nice little park, but all those millions could have set up a college fund for inner city standout students. But that’s not what wealthy narcissists do…

    • Lighhten up, brother. This is a really nice public amenity that gives something back to the people who pay taxes to keep the city afloat. You do this on every post. It is very tired, and it is a bit sad.

      • Ah yes, we should all “lighten up” in this panedmic” Steve, most especially if we are the ultra-rich who continue to amass their fortunes while the majorty of the country is in dire straits …and while the ulta-rich toss the rest of us a few crumbs of “public amenity” like this park. THAT is what is “tired and sad”. I might remind you that “the people who pay taxes” includes many low wage & essential workers who put their lives on the line for us i this pandemic, and who TRULY “keep this city afloat” & running in the most basic and findamental ways ….as opposed to some of the largest corporations who pay NO taxes. David is simply questioning whether the funds for this gift to the City could have been better utilized in terms of people, priorities and community. Your smug cndemnation of his views could itself use some “lightening”, and some open-mindedness as well, my friend.

        • This was planned long before the pandemic. Not sure why people that are so against projects like this read this page to begin with?

        • Oh, please. My husband and I pay plenty in taxes to cover the ever-growing needs of the disenfranchised people in this city. Instead of complaining about this park, have a meaningful conversation about family planning. Frankly, I’m sick of paying for the poor in this city.

        • EXCELLENT ANSWER!!! I love that little park and I’m not wealtny! You’ll find that those who constantly hate the wealthy are REALLY deep inside wanting to be themselves wealthy but don’t have the brains to do it. 🙂

      • I agree Steve.

      • I’d like you to come back and comment after you’ve done thorough research to find out how much the “wealthy narcissists” underwriting this have also given to charitable causes. I already know the answer, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

      • Totally agree with you Steve. And as Jesse pointed out, this project was planed long before any pandemic. For all we know Diller has also contributed to pandemic related causes and possibly even scholarships (in the past).

    • “but all those millions could have set up a college fund for inner city standout students.”

      Lol!! Dude, those students get a free ride almost anywhere they like. Colleges fall over themselves recruiting them.

    • Don’t they already have everything for free? including community college? while they did nothing to justify it.

    • I agree the resources would have been much more effectively put toward food, education housing, etc
      Pure folky

    • Workers of the world …. DISPERSE !

    • Alexander Lezhen | March 8, 2021 at 2:09 pm | Reply

      Sounds like communist propaganda to me.
      That why I ran away from it.
      Park is free for everyone to enjoy. You probably never lived under totalitarian regime, everything sounds good on paper, experience that what counts.
      I just don’t appreciate people putting tarnish on something good. Look at Highline, look at Central park. Please don’t write your comment to me.
      Thank you
      P.S. get something productive to do with your time, instead of posting this non sense
      Alexander L

  2. Though it looks a little bit weird, I think Little Island will act as a nice and unique New York City park with stunning views. Personally, I’d rather have something like this than an ordinary luxurious pier that probably wouldn’t attract many people. This, on the other hand, is a piece of modern art for which the everyday person can interact with.
    Yes, I know, here comes the controversy. But, everyone has an opinion!
    Well, I’m eager to see it open!

  3. Robert Contractor MacDonald | January 30, 2021 at 9:18 am | Reply

    Heatherwick bookends the highline with 2 of the most interesting public spaces in the city

  4. This will get packed, post pandemic..and maybe some billionaire, trillionaire can finance the overhaul of the SS United States, ( the boat, not the country ) and have it moored at some empty pier nearby.

  5. I believe that unique things like this are what we’ll need to draw tourists back to NYC to fill our hotels, visits our museums, Broadway, etc. We have The Vessel, the Highline, and now the Little Island. Awesome!

  6. Unique and wonderful.

    • It’s projects like these that show NYC has lost its edge in being cool or elegant. This park looks ugly. The focus should need in the greenery and the beauty of a the place to escape to, not the big white plastic looking childish building blocks. Not a fan. The Little Island Architect failed to work with the environment surrounding the place.

  7. It’s projects like these that make New York special. I for one as a Chelsea resident am excited to have this in my backyard bc without unique additions like this, New York would be like any other ordinary city with a lot of buildings.
    A 700 seat open air amphitheater will be a great addition that will get used in this new normal by all.

  8. I’m sure David in Bushwick, is a tireless advocate for college funding for the poor, not simply someone that snarks on blogs because he can.

  9. “a 700-seat amphitheater called The Amph”

    Should have named it Amphy McAmphFace.

  10. I think the fence is designed to evoke and echo the remnants of the historic pier visable below.
    And, “Asensibleman” no college is “falling over” to recrute children who have ‘graduated’ from HS unprepared to do college level work, which is what some, not all, NYC HSs (typically in high poverty areas) provide.

  11. Sorry, but this is an eyesore….and thats before the anchors turn dirty and black. White is the wrong color choice for this project. It doesnt have to scream ‘look at me’ to be attractive.

  12. Steve O. Pay no attention to all these people who complain that the money should have gone to all the welfare cases looking for freebies. If we listened to all these people, we would have never went to the moon! They’re the type that say the Statue of Liberty says give me your masses (BEFORE) there was Welfare, WIC, Food Stamps, Section 8 housing, and Dreamers that is)!!!

  13. Richard Califano | January 30, 2021 at 3:33 pm | Reply

    Very nice! Meanwhile, the East River Esplanade is crumbling into the river.

  14. Marcus Aurelius | January 30, 2021 at 3:46 pm | Reply

    The Bronx is still burning if any one cares..People in other borros have long known this but if your from brooklyn the Bronx or Harlem the city could care less about you or your ammentities..So i thought id let folks kno..were still alive over here in the Bronx,we still have civilization were part of this city too..

  15. Michael F. Anaya | January 30, 2021 at 4:03 pm | Reply

    Looking forward to the opening of Little Island.

    Another ‘gem’ added to the strand of parks along the Hudson River (and the West Side of Manhattan) that offers improved ‘quality of life’ options to the New York City residents and visitors alike. We shouldn’t forget how fortunate We All are living in NYC (regardless of Our economical/social status, as well as political beliefs).

    Grateful.

    Blessings to All.

  16. Wow, the bickerers are alive and well…I don’t even know why the have a comment section on this site, it’s useless. Except for the bickering, of course.

  17. For all of those who constantly caterwaul about the “wealthy” not paying enough and shouldn’t give towards a park like this. In case you didn’t know our nation has spent over $20 trillion dollars fighting poverty and supporting the disenfranchised since the war on poverty commenced in 1965 with roughly a 15% national poverty rate, then and now. The larger question that ought to be asked is, “where did all that money go”? That 20 trillion is about the size of the present day US economy. So let’s stop all the class envy. Mr. Diller’s millions will not fix the poverty woes of America or NYC! The poverty issue is far more complex than simply throwing money at it.

  18. David : Sent From Heaven. | January 30, 2021 at 10:19 pm | Reply

    Born as a person, people must be visited on the island; which is a place built by people as well: Thank you.

  19. It’s nice. I just hope there’s no social distancing police or mask nazis to destroy it.

  20. I’m in Camp “Lighten Up!”

    If it weren’t for the generosity of benefactors like Diller, Delacorte, Astor, etc…, this city wouldn’t have things like the Highline, a permanent home for Shakespeare in the Park, and the main branch of our Public Library. Little Island cost today’s taxpayers next to nothing – and it will benefit the city for generations. So, yes. – LIGHTEN UP

    And for those who say that this project is ugly – Parisians said the same thing of the Eiffel Tower when it was being built. So there.

    I’m glad we have this new gem. And coming on (what I hope will be) the heels of a pandemic, it is most welcome addition to a city that our former president said was dying. If you don’t like Little Island, no one is stopping you from going to another park that suits your tastes better. Or, you can bring your computers and complain about it all over the on Little Island’s free WiFi.

  21. So nice that the orignal Cunard gateway will be preserved. Pier 54 was where the RMS Carpathia docked on 18th April 1912 and Titanic surviors disembarked, so I was initially alarmed when I heard the pier was going to be demolished for a park, as I feared this important piece of history was going to be lost forever. Speaking of better spending of money, maybe now is the time to consider an western extension of the L Train closer to 11th Avenue.

  22. From Virginia: This will be one of the first places I’ll go to next time I visit NYC post-pandemic.

  23. It’s interesting, but I would’ve rather had something practical like a bike and pedestrian bridge between Manhattan and NJ

  24. Very nice…too bad the east side has nothing like that…matter of fact the bike/walk way is a mess especially around the area berween 39 and 33 streets. The east side waterfront in Midtown needs to addressed…it’s way past time to fix up the East River walk and bike wat

  25. It’s weird…. but I like it

  26. Providing value that the strictly pragmatic will never understand, inventive architecture elevates the human spirit and elevates the public consciousness.

  27. Dear Naysayers: Your misguided comments to denigrate this great little pocket park overlook some key facts.
    • Diller & Co. walked away from the project because of all the naysayers and gloom & doomers. But the City was desperate to make it happen, and asked him to come back onboard. Why?
    • Because tourism is the name of the game to sustain the City in which you all live. And new downtown iconic spots, including the revitalized waterfront, the Highline, Pier 26, Chelsea Piers have been such a life-sustaining boon to the City’s financial health, well-being, cultural scene, and future. So please, get a life, and hopefully one that celebrates our culture and resilient downtown spirit.

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