Hi friends, welcome back! I ventured to Long Island City back in April in search of the cherry blossoms, but I ended up discovering so much more than some beautiful trees. Long Island City (aka LIC) is across the East River from Manhattan, and one subway stop away from Grand Central. This area used to be a dockyard and manufacturing district, but now there are quite a few apartment buildings and beautiful public parks. I had previously only been to LIC when Jon and I would take the subway here to avoid some traffic for a weekday flight, so I was very excited to explore the waterfront.
From the subway, it was an easy, ten-minute walk to the waterfront park. The waterfront includes Gantry State Park (12 acres, state owned) and Hunter’s Point South Park (11 acres, city owned). You could also take a ferry here for a more scenic route but it usually takes longer.
As I mentioned earlier, I was looking for the cherry blossoms and tulips, but I was more drawn to the incredible waterfront park. Gantry State Park opened in 1998 and offers piers for fishing, a splash pad, playground, basketball and pickleball courts, and plenty of space and seating. I started walking north to see the famous Pepsi Cola sign I’d seen so often from Manhattan. If I lived in the area I would love walking here in the morning with my coffee.
I went during the week so it wasn’t as crowded as I’m sure the weekend gets. These chairs look like a great spot to take in the Manhattan skyline or a spectacular sunset.
I loved the views of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and UN Building (the dark, glass rectangular building).
These large structures, called gantries, were used to load railcar floats and barges back when this area was a dockyard. I like how they left them here as a reminder to the area’s past function.
I believe south of the gantries is where Hunter’s Point South Park actually begins. Phase I of the park opened in 2013, and includes “an oval shaped turf field and a basketball court with an outdoor gym. There is also a well-equipped children’s playground, a dog run, and sand volleyball court”. My favorite part of the park were these beautiful tulip beds, I know you’re surprised 😉 They were right next to a busy dog park, so I took a break and watched the dogs and flowers.
Phase II of the park opened in 2018 and includes, “Pedestrian and bicycle pathways, adult fitness equipment, a playground, picnic terraces and a collection of wooden seating areas, newly established wetlands, a kayak launch, and a 30-foot-high cantilevered platform offering unparalleled views of the Manhattan skyline and East River”. I didn’t make it all the way to the viewing platform, but it looked like it had great views!
Hunter’s Point South Park also has a little food stand, plenty of picnic tables, and clean bathrooms, so this would be the perfect place to spend an afternoon with family and friends. You could even watch a game of sand volleyball while you’re having lunch.
This open area is great, and this part of my post will require some imagination. I’d seen pictures on Instagram of beautiful, flowering cherry trees, but sadly they died before I got there. Only one little tree maintained its color.
This is what it was supposed to look like…
I enjoyed checking out Gantry State Park, Hunter’s Point South Park, and seeing Manhattan from a different perspective. I always enjoy exploring new areas, especially along the water or away from the honking. These parks reminded me a lot of Battery Park and the piers along the Hudson River. I appreciate that NYC is investing in these outdoor spaces, they’re a much needed reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life.