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Upcycling New York

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

A proverb to which city dwellers can relate. Stoop freebies are a goldmine for gems to upcycle and same goes for unused land, piers, and abandoned railways. NYC and its residents are putting in the work to preserve and reimagine these spaces rather than demolitioning them, creating more waste and empty lots. And some of the best glow-ups are along the west side.

Moseying to the west of our New York hotel, deals out 4-miles of park once a coastline of decommissioned and rundown piers. Take a look at these ‘before’ photos and you’ll find a sore sight for your eyes. The highlight is Pier 84, the largest pier on the Manhattan waterfront, pulling you right out of the hustle n’ bustle of city life and right into the water. Rent kayaks, take your dog to the dog park, lay out on the grassy lawn and, especially on these hot days, bring a towel and cool down in the water park installation. There’s a rich history to Pier 84, too much to summarize in a paragraph. The highlights: pre-destination for immigrants before heading to Ellis Island, welcome to Olympic athletes, and hearing the sounds of The Clash, Miles Davis, and U2. 

Walk down the water’s edge and a couple of blocks east. Look up. Above the streets on the West side, is a 1.43 mile pathway in the trees, The Highline, once a railway transporting food and other goods to businesses in lower Manhattan during the 19th century. As modes of transportation evolved, the elevated railway became obsolete, destined for demolition. Long story short, Friends of the Highline, a non-profit group, rallied together advocating for the preservation creating a walkway of opportunity for architecture, urban design and ecology. Walk the line, starting at 34th Street, for a scenic view above the streets, lounge chairs that roll along the original tracks, native plants lush along the path, and stargazing and tour events.

If no detours were taken off The Highline, the walkway lands into Chelsea revealing an island oasis opened in May 2021: Pier 54 aka Little Island. “A long history in New York City’s growth including the pier the Titanic survivors arrived at, a safe haven for the LGBTQ community in the ‘70s and ‘80s and then destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. The community didn’t want the Pier’s story to end there. Little Island was born, launching a new experience of public space. A playground for family and kids, outdoor performances at The Amph and pathways with greenery and views…making you forget you’re in an urban setting.” (citing our April 2022 blog).

A blend of yesteryear, today and a beautiful story in between, these city oases keep us here and visitors coming back for more.