First the High Line, Now...a Beach in Manhattan?

New plan would turn East River waterfront into a place you’d actually want to go
WXY architecture / Borough President Scott Stringer's Office

A rendering of the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Beach.

Imagine, it’s a sweltering dog day afternoon in New York City and you want to go to the beach. You grab your suit, your towel, your sunscreen and head towards… the East River?

A new proposal unveiled last week by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and state assemblyman Brian Kavanagh would turn miles of East River waterfront from a Seinfeld punchline into a stretch of beaches, boat launches and wetlands.

The highlight of the plan, which was developed in partnership with WXY architecture + urban design over the last 16 months, would be Brooklyn Bridge Beach. Under this iconic landmark would be a sandy beach with swimming areas, concessions and kayak launches (see the rendering above). For reference, this is what the area currently looks like:

An esplanade and bikeway would stretch uninterrupted from the bridge north to 38th Street, a distance of approximately 3.7 miles, according to Google Maps.

Saltwater marshes would also be built offshore to filter runoff into the river and absorb storm surges like the one that inundated parts of Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy.

Although the borough president’s office has already committed $3.5 million to the first phase—enhancing wetlands—it is a multi-phase project that will require various city agencies to get on board and has no set timeline.

As for swimming in this famously polluted waterway, the proposal calls for using “filtered river water” in the swimming areas so you won’t have to worry about smelling like Kramer.

(Renderings courtesy of WXY architecture / Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s Office)

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