The creation of the East Midtown Greenway (EMG), a 1.5-acre public space stretching from East 53rd to 61st Streets along the waterfront, got underway Friday. The project, to be completed by 2022, is part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway initiative to wrap the entire perimeter of Manhattan with accessible public spaces and safe bicycle paths. The midtown space will close one of the largest remaining gaps in the $250 million city initiative, announced by Mayor de Blasio in 2018, to connect 32 miles of Manhattan waterfront esplanade. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenaway project will close gaps in Inwood, Harlem, and East Harlem, as well as the East Midtown space. The goal is to connect neighborhoods to their waterfronts and add about 15 acres of open space. The planned esplanade will connect the bike paths that line the city’s perimeter so that cyclists can safely circle Manhattan without veering off into city streets. The EMG will be the first Manhattan waterfront gap to be addressed since Riverwalk in Riverside Park opened in 2010.
The new space, at a cost of approximately $100 million, will create a continuous 40-foot-wide esplanade over the East River parallel to FDR Drive. As 6sqft previously reported: Construction on the scruffy undeveloped gap along the highway from 53rd to 61st Street–an annoyance to cyclists, runners and walkers who traverse the scenic path that runs along the East River–will begin in 2019 and is expected to continue for three years. The new path will rest on pilings about 15 feet off the shoreline on a boardwalk, similar to the West Side’s waterfront path. The East Midtown Greenway also reflects the city’s commitment to making its public open spaces accessible to New Yorkers of all ages and abilities. As part of the EMG project, renovations and an extension will be added at Andrew Haswell Green Park just north of the greenway, including a new ADA-accessible pedestrian bridge.The project will also include a widened area near 53rd Street with space for environmental programming and a public art installation created by Stacy Levy. Stantec provided the project’s landscape architecture as well as waterfront, civil, structural, and electrical engineering, with Skanska serving as construction manager. Mayor de Blasio said at the groundbreaking ceremony, “Today marks another major step forward in returning the waterfront of New York City to New Yorkers. I look forward to the day when families and friends can relax and enjoy the East Midtown Greenway—an oasis in the heart of our city.”
The other spaces in the works along the East River waterfront include a $25 million project in East Harlem from 114th to East 117th Streets and a $35.5 million project on the Upper East Side from East 90th to East 94th Streets. Council Member Ben Kallos said, “We are ready to break ground on the East River Greenway, and what once was only a dream is getting closer to reality. Soon my constituents and I will finally be able to run, bike or walk the entire length of my district from Midtown East to East Harlem.”