New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
East River Park
Moses soon faced a problem: the acquisition of enough land for a park in this densely populated area. Condemnation, the process by which the City normally acquired land, was prohibitively expensive and fraught with legal difficulties, especially along this heavily industrialized waterfront. Moses arrived at an imaginative solution. To provide more parkland, he built a 10-foot wide concrete extension to Manhattan’s eastern shoreline spanning 20 blocks. The combination of the added platform and Moses’ legal wrangling was enough to secure the needed land,
East River Park has undergone a great many changes since then. In 1949, when the FDR Drive was widened, a portion of the park between Montgomery and Jackson Streets was eliminated. South Street was extended in 1963, protruding onto another 30-foot section of the park. In 1951, Parks built the 10th Street pedestrian overpass above the FDR Drive, connecting the park with East River residents, especially allowing easy access to residents of the neighboring Lillian Ward Houses.
An amphitheater was built in the park in 1941, along with an adjacent limestone recreational building, as part of an urban renewal project for the Lower East Side. Joseph Papp (1921-1991), founder of Shakespeare in the Park and the Public Theater, staged Julius Caesar there in 1956. During much of that decade, the amphitheater was the site of free Evening-in-the-Park concerts. Local schools held their graduation ceremonies there, and the group of Ancient Drama performed free productions of Greek classics. In 1973, however, the amphitheater closed due to budget shortage. Vandals attacked the neglected theater and by 1980 it was unusable.
The East River waterfront has played a crucial role in the development of New York City. Before the arrival of Dutch colonists in the 17th century,
In recent years, the park has been the site of extensive renovations, including 1994 improvements to the basketball court, playground, and picnic area, and seawall. Renovation continued in 1996, when Parks celebrated the opening of the 10th Street comfort station, funded through the efforts of City Council Members Antonio Pagan and Kathryn Freed, with a First Flush ceremony. Commissioner Stern performed a ceremonial flush of the men’s room toilet and cut an inaugural toilet paper ribbon. In 2000, ballfield lighting improvements were completed with funding provided by City Council member Margarita Lopez. A bikeway was completed in 2001 with funding from Mayor Giuliani
The park is a popular recreation area. in addition to its views of the East River, it boasts basketball, tennis, and handball courts; playgrounds; a picnic area; softball, football, baseball and track fields; a river promenade; and a footbridge. The Brian Watkins Tennis Club, which opened in 1991, is named for a 22-year old Utah tourist who was slain while attempting to protect his parents from a subway mugger. The tennis club honors Watkin’s avid interest in tennis, offering free tennis lessons six months a year.
City of New York Parks & Recreation
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor
Adrian Benepe, Commissioner
Erected 2001 by City of New York Parks & Recreation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Parks & Recreational Areas.
Location. 40° 42.665′ N, 73° 58.827′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of South Street and Jackson Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. Augustine’s Chapel (approx. ¼ mile away); Lillian Wald House (approx. 0.3 miles away); Henry Street Settlement Henry Street Settlement and Neighborhood Playhouse (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Church of St. Teresa (approx. half a mile away); Our Lady of Sorrow World War II Memorial (approx. 0.6 miles away); Manhattan Bridge (approx. 0.6 miles away); B’nai B’rith (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
Also see . . . John V. Lindsay East River Park. Official NYC Parks page. (Submitted on June 23, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 10, 2019. It was originally submitted on June 23, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 59 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 25, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 2, 3. submitted on June 23, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 4. submitted on July 25, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 5, 6, 7. submitted on June 23, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 8. submitted on July 25, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.