Lower East Side park conceived by Robert Moses in the 1930s
New York City Department of Parks and Recreation: East River Park
East River Park, at fifty-nine acres, is the third largest park in Manhattan. It was created by Robert Moses in the 1930s to offer recreational opportunities to the over crowded, low income and immigrant neighborhood of the Lower East Side. The Park stretches from 12th Street down to Montgomery Street, and is sandwiched between FDR Drive and the East River.
The Park features a reconstructed esplanade with great views into the harbor. The older part of the Park contains mature trees along its service road. The Park also features very distinct buildings such as the track building, with interesting tile work, an anchor monument, and barbecue areas. There are diverse sports facilities, such as eight baseball fields, a running track, tennis courts, and a playground. There are also social meeting spaces, such as the dance oval and the amphitheater and an environmental education center at the Fire Boathouse. The Williamsburg Bridge is another dominating man-made feature in the Park. The space also offers the opportunity to be close to the waterways, and an access point for boats at the Fire Boathouse with its wharf.
The Park continues to be an important asset to the neighborhood, providing opportunities for families to picnic in the summer, enjoy free events at the amphitheater, play on the ball fields and tennis courts, and passive recreation, such as a stroll along the esplanade. East River Park is also an important ecological asset as an open space right next the the estuary, serving as a refuge for the diverse wildlife, such as birds and insects. Since 1998, the Lower East Side Ecology Center, a local not-for-profit, has offered environmental and stewardship programs in the Park.
East River Park has undergone ten years of ongoing construction, and many of the physical details have changed or have been affected by this undertaking. Construction along the esplanade, however, is going to be completed in the summer of 2011, which will provide an opportunity to engage the community in their 'new' Park. With the changing demographics of the Lower East Side, and the diverse uses that the Park offers, it will be important to bring these diverse and diverting issues together to create a strong community around the truly important resource for the Lower East Side. (March, 2011)
East River Park is a place where there is always something happening. People are always playing baseball, basketball, tennis, handball, and soccer. During the winter people still play football and rugby. There are a few recreational parks within the park, including baseball fields, tennis courts, a football and soccer field, and a track. If you go to the park you will see people jogging, exercising, walking their dogs, playing all types of sports, enjoying picnics and enjoying the East River.
The park has received many improvements over the years. The walkway next to the river renewed, (it used to be dangerous because the gate meant to hold people back from the water was not sturdy), and the basketball courts have been improved, and the baseball fields are now covered in artificial grass. The new turf helps when there is bad weather, but I do miss the real grass because the artificial grass takes away the element of a real field. (November, 2012)