Thomas Heatherwick's Little Island in New York Opens

A new, free public park on the Hudson River

By: THURSD. | 26-05-2021 | 3 min read
Little Island, a new, free public park pier within the larger Hudson River Park, opened to the public on May 21, 2021, providing New Yorkers and visitors from around the world with a unique green space unlike any other in New York City. Originally called Pier 55, Little Island is an elevated park built on top of 132 mushroom-shaped concrete columns in the river at 55 Hudson Greenway.

Little Island - Free Public Park on the Hudson River

The park is located on the edge of Manhattan's Meatpacking District, close to the southern end of the High Line (another must-see for nature lovers) and the Whitney Museum. Thomas Heatherwick's Little Island opened to the public on 21 May 2012 and is ready for its visitors, who can enjoy the park by purchasing free timed tickets.
Thomas Heatherwick's Little Island in New York Opens Public Park Image via TimeOut

Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller

The photos, recently taken for WSJ. Magazine, were published ahead of the opening so potential visitors could get a sneak peek of the beauty and incredible design to expect. Adrian Gaut's photos were taken to accompany an interview in WSJ. Magazine with fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and her husband, businessman Barry Diller - the couple who funded the Little Island project.
Thomas Heatherwick's Little Island in New York Opens Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller
Image courtesy of Adrian Gaut via WSJ. Magazine
Barry Diller told WSJ Magazine:
"My hope is that people will enjoy it, be inspired by it, and they'll enjoy it 100 years from now. If that happens, great. Otherwise, they can dynamite it."

The Construction of Little Island

British designer Thomas Heaterwick proposed the initial build for the park in 2014. The construction of the $260 million project started in 2016 but came to a halt in 2017 when the United States District Court vacated the permit after advocacy group The City Club of New York lobbied against it.
Thomas Heatherwick's Little Island in New York Opens Hudson River
Image courtesy of Adrian Gaut via WSJ. Magazine
"On the day we were supposed to order $80 million worth of cement our lawyers said [the opposing group] could get an injunction," said Diller. "Not only would I have all this cement sitting around with nowhere to put it, whatever else I’d done so far would have to be undone too," he added. "I was angry. I had taken $45 million of the foundation’s money and literally thrown it in the river. I felt irresponsible." Diller said that New York's governor Andrew Cuomo then called him repeatedly and offered to help get the lawsuit dropped. The project was restarted and relaunched in 2019 and renamed Little Island.

Innovative Designs

Components of the pier, nestled among more than 350 species of flowers, trees, and shrubs, include a 687-seat amphitheater and an intimate stage and lawn space, along with dazzling views of other portions of Hudson River Park, New York City, and the Hudson River. Little Island was designed by Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick Studio, with landscape design by Signe Nielsen of MNLA. The landscape provides a visually surprising and inspiring experience as visitors walk across the park. The plantings are varied to provide an environment that changes with the seasons, with flowing trees and shrubs, fall foliage, and evergreens. More than 66,000 bulbs and 114 trees have been planted, some of which will grow to 60 feet tall.
Thomas Heatherwick's Little Island in New York Opens Public Park
Image courtesy of Adrian Gaut via WSJ. Magazine

Programming at the Pier

Beginning in June, Little Island will host a season of programming to foster and support New York City-based artists. The majority of events will be free, and ticketed events will be primarily free or low-cost. There will be performances and educational programming six days a week, with offerings from music, dance, circus, spoken word and more. Programming ranges from surprise performances with local performers to special events with renowned New York City arts organizations. Tickets are available through (via DeZeen, Hudson River Park, WSJ. Magazine)



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