Little Island – Pier 55 NYC

Hi friends, welcome back! Today I’m taking you on a tour of NYC’s new park on the Hudson River, Little Island at Pier 55, between 13th and 14th Streets. I didn’t know this originally, but this park has quite the backstory. Little Island was built from the remnants of Pier 54 which used to be owned by the British shipping/transport company Cunard-White Star. The arch from the original Cunard-White Star building is still standing today, and you can see it in the below picture under the petal like structures. The pier served as the arrival and departure spot for Trans-Atlantic voyages, and some famous ships stopped here including the rescue liner carrying survivors from The Titanic. Another famous ship for any history buffs, the Luisitania, sunk only five days after leaving port by German U-boats.

When the pier became outdated in the 1970s and 1980s, it turned into a spot for the LGBT community, and a Dance on the Pier event was held here for 25 years until Hurricane Sandy caused major destruction to the Hudson River piers in 2012. A year later in an effort to restore the pier, Barry Diller of the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation and the Hudson River Park Trust set off to create a new public space combining art and nature. In 2018, work began on the creation of $260 million-dollar Little Island. Little Island… big cost!!

The unique design was inspired by the remaining wood posts from Pier 54. The design includes 280 concrete structural posts coming out of the water and 132 “Tulips” fusing together to create one connected landscape. The design and installation process was extremely complex and had little margin for error.

Little Island officially opened to the public in May 2021 and has been a popular spot ever since. It’s such a unique park and feels large with all the different levels and areas.

There’s a 687-seat amphitheater that hosts shows in the summer for free or a low cost. In 2021, there were 75 different performers that played here. Maybe this summer I’ll make it to a performance.

Little Island includes over 350 species of flowers, trees, and shrubs throughout the 2.4 acre park. I loved how it felt like it’s own little oasis but with the beautiful NYC skyline on the horizon. The sun sets over the Hudson River, so if you come before sunset you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous view!

There’s also an area called “The Play Ground” that provides seating and stalls with food and beverages. You can bring a picnic, but no outside alcohol is permitted.

The Glade is a smaller stage and lawn that I believe is open in the summer. About 200 people can fit here for a show.

The views of the Hudson River, Lower Manhattan, The Empire State Building, and Hudson Yards are quite spectacular!

I loved walking through the windy paths and up and down the stairs, there was always something new to discover and see.

I enjoyed checking out Little Island and would highly recommend checking it out on a trip to NYC! You can stay as little or as long as you’d like and there are nice facilities if you want to spend an afternoon here with friends. Little Island is right across from The High Line and Chelsea Market, so you could easily see all three in one afternoon. I went during the week in the fall so it wasn’t crowded, but I imagine the weekends can get pretty busy here. Last summer they required reservations, so if you’re planning to visit, check the website to secure a free reservation beforehand. What do you think about Little Island?

29 thoughts on “Little Island – Pier 55 NYC

  1. What a special place Lyssy and right next to Highline seems to make a lot of sense. The cost to create Little Island may have been big, but the value of this kind of space in NYC is priceless. Thanks for taking us there. Allan

    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed! I agree that the cost was worth it and the park should survive rising sea levels with its unique construction.

  2. The pier has an interesting history. Beautiful Little Park and the nearby attractions would be a great place to spend an afternoon next time I’m in NYC. I think a sculpture or two would look good in the park.

    1. It is a great place to spend the afternoon! I think I saw some art scattered throughout but I was too distracted by the skyline and greenery 🌾🌸

  3. We really enjoyed visiting there in the fall, too! We didn’t realize the history or how new it was, though, so thanks for the lesson!

    1. Glad you enjoyed and got to see the park! I didn’t realize the history until I checked out the website while writing this post. There were also some lawsuits and legal issues that almost prevented the park from being built!

    1. It’s such a unique spot, you’ll enjoy visiting it, hopefully you can make it to NYC soon 🙂

  4. Such a beautifully organic design, especially fronting the urban landscape of NYC. I was not surprised to read the design/construction had to go through several hoops before it was finished. I’m sure the environmentalists had there say with it. Also not surprised to hear about reservations during high season. Some of Colorado’s natural attractions (ex. Hanging Lake) have moved to reservations-required, not just to keep the crowds down but also to avoid permanent damage caused by too many tourists.

    1. I thought you’d appreciate the design! You are right, environmentalists were involved to make sure the park could withstand the rising sea levels and disruption to the river during construction. I’m glad people persevered and the park was created. Everyone wants to travel/be out in nature these days so I think the reservation allows the people to have a quality experience while also protecting the area.

  5. It’s a really charming park and you can see the love and care that’s gone into it. I’m guessing some won’t be bowled over by the concrete tulips but I quite like them. Really cool history re the pier.

    1. It’s amazing how much went into it, and I love how well they take care of the park now. Some curmudgeons were against the park and I’m sure don’t like the tulips, but I think they’re cool too!

    1. You’ll definitely need to check it out next time you’re here, hopefully with gorgeous weather!

  6. Thanks for the review. I loved hearing about the history. I’ve always wondered what happened with the piers that they talk about in Paris is Burning. I assume this was one of them. I wonder where the dance party went to?

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