With a blustery weather week of ice and snow, it's probably not the most opportune time to discuss the merits of a constitutional walk along the East River. Yet, while on a recent walk to a revamped section of the East River Park Promenade, a stretch north of the Williamsburg Bridge from E. Houston St. to E. 10th St., a few joggers and walkers didn't seem to mind the chilly excursion. The sky was mostly clear, with a few clouds adding visual interest. And never mind the fact that that the Parks web page on East River Park, at the time of this adventure, stated that this particular section of the waterfront promenade was closed for renovations. The more accurate statement could be found on the Parks sign for the John V. Lindsay East River Park Promenade, as it is so named, near the water's edge: "Sections of the new promenade will be open to the public as they become ready." This section seems ready enough.
While the river is historically important, serving as a major shipping lane for centuries, teeming with sailors, markets, tenements, wharves, and industrial sites, the fast-flowing East River still carries a lot of baggage. Deep associations with the rough-and-tumble world of the Dead End Kids or gritty crime dramas - bodies tossed in the East River, don't you know - may keep some away. The glamorous Hudson River often gets the good press, upstaging its eastern counterpart. Brooklyn, over yonder, may have established better relations with the East River than Manhattan, as their creative new Brooklyn Bridge Park, with its repurposed piers, has already afforded new close-up views and access to the waterway. (Their view of Manhattan is kind of nice, too.) Yet venturing out on the new refurbished promenade of the East River Park on the Manhattan side should appeal to those best suited to strolling among the basic elements of river, bridge, sky, and smokestacks.
Getting there is half the fun. One way is to walk east on E. Houston Street to where it dead-ends, run fast across FDR Drive, and then locate the ramp down to the park. Walk south along the promenade to the Williamsburg Bridge and then turn around and walk north to E. 10th Street (there’s an access ramp there) and return, or keep walking north. One walker I met indicated he had just walked south from near the United Nations and recommended a longer stroll. Maybe another day, but soon.
The satellite map shows the park in greener days (hard to remember now) and the promenade in an earlier phase of construction.
View the East River Park Promenade in a larger map
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from January 15, 2011. Made with the Hipstamatic and Pro HDR apps for the iPhone (read this post on iPhoneography for more information). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them.