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Monday, December 25, 2023

Little Island, NYC - floating park on the Hudson River

  Rajesh Kumar Rana       Monday, December 25, 2023


Little Island Pilings Panorama

In the western part of Manhattan, right on the Hudson River, is the newest and most unusual urban park in New York. “Little Island” – the name fully describes the essence of this unique place. Little Island is a mini park built on or above the water to be more precise.

Official website:

Little Island - NYC

This is a project and a gift to the city from businessman Barry Diller. The cost is $260 million dollars. The “Little Island” has 9,500 square meters of lawns, walking paths, viewing platforms, an impressive amphitheater with almost 700 seats and a food court with a bar.

The concept of the park: an artificial island

The idea of ​​creating a new park appeared almost 10 years ago, but it officially opened only at the end of May 2021. For many years, opponents of the project tried to stop the construction in order to preserve the famous pier No. 55, which was previously located on the site of the “small island”, the very one to which the rescued passengers of the Titanic were delivered in 1912.

At its peak, Pier 55 was a venue for concerts and other outdoor events, but in recent years its condition has left much to be desired: long abandoned, it fell into disrepair and began to deteriorate, which forced it to close. To revive this iconic site, the park's management turned to businessman Barry Diller for help. The development of a unique concept of an artificial island was taken up by British designer Thomas Heatherwick. He wanted the park's walkways and observation decks to offer stunning views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. Heatherwick recently designed the famous Vessel at Hudson Yards.

The concept, which was proposed back in 2014, has hardly changed during the construction process. So, at the heart of the bizarre supporting structure  of the "small island" are 280 reinforced concrete piles from 4.5 to 18.3 meters high, which are fixed at the bottom of the Hudson on the remains of the wooden foundation of Pier No. 55.

The piles are topped with 132 tulip-shaped concrete bowls, with wide rims and long graceful legs - they support the park's platforms, creating a gradation so that the soil, lawns and trees in each area are at different heights. All this, together with tulip bowls of different shapes, sizes and heights, creates an authentic wavy landscape of the park. From afar, it resembles a leaf floating on water.

Billionaire Barry Diller has announced that he will take care of the cost of maintaining the park - over the next 20 years, the project will be funded by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation. However, Diller expects that the park will subsequently acquire other sources of funding and "go free-floating." According to Diller's own preliminary estimates, he will eventually spend about $380 million on the park. This is, without a doubt, the most generous gift that the parks of New York (and perhaps the whole world) have ever received.

If you're wondering, "Who is Barry Diller?"

Here is his track record:

  • 1974 - 1984 Head of Paramount Pictures
  • 1984 - 1992 Head of 20th Century Fox
  • 2000s Chairman at Expedia and Inter Active Corp (IAC) (Tinder, Vimeo, Home Advisor, etc.)
  • Barry also actively produces Broadway shows.

Diller's fortune for 2021 is estimated at $6 billion.

Little Island Panorama

Things to do in Little Island Park


The park is made up of lawns, densely planted with flowers, and boasts 35 species of trees from a wide variety of trees, including red oaks, Japanese evergreen cedars, Green Weiss zelka trees, and Oktober Glory red maples brought from farms in New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In total, there are 114 trees in the hills and clearings of the park, which protect visitors from the wind from the Hudson and the sun's rays: from slender and tall to squat and miniature, from 30 to 50 years old. New York landscape designers from the MNLA agency were responsible for landscaping the project. Little Island is the perfect place for flower lovers and connoisseurs of modern urban eco-design.


Nearly every path in the park offers views of either the city or the Hudson River.

There are small lookouts at the highest points on Little Island.

Also, for the convenience of visitors, there are benches in different parts of the park.


This year, hundreds of democratically priced or free concerts and shows for children and adults are planned to be held in the park.

Theatrical productions, ballet, workshops, festivals and art exhibitions - all this and more can be found in the Little Island cultural program. 


In the very center of the park there is a food court, which consists of several stands and a bar. The menu includes salads, sandwiches, hot dogs, coffee, tea, beer, wine and cocktails.

The full menu and food court schedule can be found here - open

Working hours of the park


  • Entrance to Little Island Park from 6:00 am to 12:00 pm - free
  • From 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., you must pre- book a ticket on the website

"Little Island" is open daily  from 6:00 am to 01:00 am.

The time spent inside the park is not limited, the entrance is absolutely free.

The park management urges you to arrive 30 minutes before the booking time on your ticket, and please note that the booking cannot be changed or rescheduled. Tickets can be shown from the phone screen.

How to get to Little Island Park

You can get to the park from the nearest metro stations, by taxi or on foot.

Nearest metro stations:

  • Subway lines A, C, E and L, - 14th street stop (intersection of 14th street and 8th avenue)
  • Subway lines 1, 2 and 3, 14th street stop (intersection of 14th street and 7th avenue)
  • Subway Lines F and M, 14th street stop (intersection of 14th street and 7th avenue)

From any of the above stations, you will need to walk towards the Hudson River.


Use two fingers to move the map


Pier 55 at Hudson River Park West 13th Street, New York NY 10014

How the pillars of Little Island Park were created and installed

As we already know, the supporting structure of the "Little Island" is based on concrete piles rising from the Hudson River, in the upper part of which the so-called tulips "bloom" - concrete bowls similar in shape and structure that hold the surface of the park at different heights. 

To create such a monumental structure, it was necessary to combine the efforts of several teams of professionals. So, concrete piles were designed by the American geological engineering firm Mueser Rutledge, manufactured by Coastal Precast, and engineers from the British international firm Arup figured out how to balance such a grand structure on columns.

Experts from the offshore contractor Weeks Marine did a truly brilliant job to determine the optimal depth for the installation of supporting piles in the ground: thanks to a preliminary 3-week probing stage, the error during the installation of each column was only 7.2 cm! As a result, Weeks Marine installed 267 prefabricated concrete piles in 10 months - with a 5-month break so as not to disturb the seasonal migration of fish.

Approximately half of the columns serve as a support for the tulips that "open" on the surface of the park. Each such  bud consists of 4-6 concrete petals located on the central axis of the column. The tulips were made by the Fort Miller Company, a leading Northeast company that specializes in concrete products for bridges, retaining walls, and roads.

The scale of the project presented the company with an ambitious new challenge that could only be achieved if all departments worked together: for example, FAB3 produced the steel plates that were used to connect the tulip bowls, and Scott System took over the production of 220 one-of-a-kind foam molds and 45 molds for column heads.

Once made, the concrete and steel components of the tulips were trucked to Port Coymans in Raven Village, Albany County, New York, where Weeks Marine combined all the prefabricated elements to form complete buds. The assembled "flower beds" were delivered by barge to the construction site, where they were fixed on concrete piles using a floating crane. It took several hours to install each bud, and a total of 132 tulips were installed on the site. Each weighs up to 75 tons, and hardly two of them are the same.

Historical background

The Hudson Riverfront is a place with an interesting history, echoes of which can be traced in the new park. It has come a long and eventful way to become a modern "small island".


In the XIX-XX centuries, the Hudson River embankment played the role of a busy seaport with the proud name "Pier 54". From 1910 to 1935, it was operated by the British shipping company Cunard-White Star, which turned the pier into a departure and return point for transatlantic ocean liners. It was pier number 54 that received passengers rescued from the Titanic who arrived aboard the Carpathia in April 1912, and from here in 1915 the Louisiana sailed, which was sunk by German torpedoes at the height of the First World War.


Over time, the pier fell into disrepair. It fell into disuse and remained virtually empty until the 1970s and 80s, when, along with other piers south of Chelsea, it became a safe haven for New York's growing LGBT culture, where queer people could openly express themselves and socialize without for fear of persecution and threat to life.


Gradually, the pier began to be used for concerts and other events. So, since 1986 and for a quarter of a century, it has  remained the permanent venue for the annual Dance on the Pier as part of the Pride Parade. Along with the growing popularity of Pier 55, the number of events held here has also increased. However, Hurricane Sandy, which hit the coast of New York in 2012, severely damaged several piers along the Hudson, including our hero.


In 2013, Barry Diller, in partnership with the Hudson River Park Trust, embarked on a grand idea to renovate and restore the cultural heritage of Pier 55. Diller's plan was to create a completely new type of public space for New York City that would offer residents and visitors to the city a previously unexplored, exciting experience of communicating with nature and architecture in a format that they are not yet familiar with.


Thanks for reading Little Island, NYC - floating park on the Hudson River

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