New York City Is Building a Park on a New 'Island' — and the Plans Have Us Wishing It Was Summertime

Landscape architect Signe Nielsen told Travel + Leisure all about it.

Little Island mock-up
Photo: Courtesy of Little Island

New York City's latest park in development is actually it's own island.

Aptly named Little Island, the park floating off of Manhattan's west side is supported by 132 concrete support structures, that range from 15 feet all the way up to 62 feet-high. Slated to open in Spring 2021, the park will feature 2.4 acres of greenery and about 100 species of trees and shrubs, including varieties of oak, pine, and one cherry tree.

Landscape architect on the project, Signe Nielsen, told Travel + Leisure that the installation of 27 of those trees is actually expected to start next week.

“It’s intended to be a place to relax and I think we've been able to do that with the landscape by… masking the visual and even acoustical noise of the city so you can focus inward. It’s rare on a pier that you can focus inward,” Nielsen said. “I think it's going to be unlike any other park, let alone pier.”

Little Island mock-up
Courtesy of Little Island
Little Island mock-up
Courtesy of Little Island

Nielsen told T+L the park is looking toward the future, as the floating structure is unattached to land so it could resist potential sea level rise as well as hurricanes and floods.

“For the most part, all of the piers are flat, there's no mystery — you look out, you see everything. In this case, we are creating quite a lot of mystery,” she said. “As you either ascend or descend a path or a stair, you're going to get many different views, things are revealed as you move through.

“You normally get that experience in a large park but very rarely in a small one and never on a pier,” Nielsen added.

The Little Island park, developed by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation with the Hudson River Park Trust, will include an amphitheater with about 700 seats (with the water as a dreamy backdrop, no less), a large, open-space plaza, and a sloped grassy area.

“There are a variety of different spaces,” Nielsen noted. “I feel like it's the kind of place people are going to want to come back to multiple times.”

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