Battery Park City is, despite how cheesy it sounds, Manhattan’s “newest neighborhood” [at least until Hudson Yards comes around]. But beyond the tall buildings is the Battery Park Esplanade, a strip of riverfront parkland and perhaps one of the greatest New York City parks. For over a mile, the Battery Park City Esplanade takes you on a beautiful waterfront journey, jumping through some of the New York City’s most majestic parks and gardens.
The Esplanade at Battery Park City is somewhat of a “superpark.” Sports courts, playgrounds and artwork are all wrapped into a beautiful, green package on the Hudson River. That’s right, on the Hudson River. Like much of the land at the edge of Lower Manhattan, Battery Park City was constructed on landfill–and not too long ago. Back in the 1970s, the foundations were laid upon dirt that had been excavated to make room for the incoming World Trade Center. Today, Battery Park has streets and towers of its own–but the Esplanade will always stand as the neighborhood’s crown jewel.
At Battery Park City’s northern end is Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, where luscious green grass meets the calming riverfront. This is where you’ll find the biggest lawn in Battery Park, and the most sunbathers if you visit in the summertime. But Rockefeller Park is also one of the coolest parks of the bunch. You can rent sports equipment and board games right from the Parkhouse and find ping pong and billiards tables free for public use.
Continuing along Esplanade again to the South is the Irish Hunger Memorial–one of the most intriguing memorials in the city. The design by artist Brian Tolle and landscape architect Bail Wittwer-Laird combines contemporary elements with a traditional, rebuilt Irish cottage. As the name implies, the Irish Hunger Memorial is dedicated to raising awareness for the Great Irish Famine of the 1800’s. All of the stone, soil and vegetation for the memorial grounds were brought in from Ireland, giving it authenticity.
Following the riverfront, the Battery Park City Esplanade will take you to the North Cove Marina and World Financial Center Plaza. This section has lots of seating and great views, but lacks the greenery of the rest of Battery Park City. And here you might find yourself dodging a few cyclists, too. But beyond the plaza is South Cove, with its lovely landscaping and tree canopies. This is one of the most serene sections of the Esplanade, and the perfect spot to sit and read if you need a little escape from the city.
Robert F Wagner Jr Park is the final stop along the Esplanade. But it should not be missed! The winding trails of Wagner Park are flanked by pockets of grass and gorgeous greenery. The park is the location of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which sits in a quirky, pagoda-style building right in the park. But whatever you choose to do at Wagner Park, the views of the harbor and make for a great day in any season.
Battery Park City’s Esplanade and all its intriguing beauty is a short jog or walk for residents from all corners of the Financial District. The gardens, lawns and pathways on the edge of Battery Park are also some of the greatest in New York City. So take a Saturday to bask in the sun, or take a jog during sunset–it’s all here waiting for you on the Esplanade.