Innovation & Recreation: Manhattan & Brooklyn Piers
New York City’s boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan are dotted with piers. They are rich in history, and if you haven’t been lately, they are transforming into some of the Big Apple’s most exciting slices of real estate.
In this special Brooklyn Made report, we dive into the backstory of these New York City waterfront spaces, how they are being reinvented, which you should visit and when, and what’s next…
New York’s Best Reviewed Piers
This historic pier dates back to 1886. Now a three-story restaurant and bar, with outdoor seating for enjoying views of the harbor and Statue of Liberty. Find it at 22 Battery Place.
Hudson River Park
From 59th Street to Battery Park, this park encompasses more than 12 piers, including the Chelsea Piers, with many diverse things to do. There are dog parks, mini golf, skateparks, the Sea, Air & Space Museum and even a trapeze school. Find your way here with the water taxi at Pier 79 or Pier 45.
Louis Valentino Jr. Park & Pier
This Red Hook pier in Brooklyn offers fantastic views of many of New York City’s treasures. Look for free kayaking and movie screenings during some parts of the year.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Again, encompassing multiple piers, this Brooklyn park offers a host of activities, as well as plenty of eats and concessions, including Luke’s Lobster. Get in by land or the water taxi.
One of Brooklyn’s newer pier and park spaces, this one offers fishing, gardens, and a bar along Greenpoint’s growing waterfront.
If you’re looking to explore a new part of Brooklyn, head over to this pier. Check out views over Jamaica Bay and salt marshes. Watch fishing demonstrations and kite flying, or get in the water with a kayak.
Gantry Plaza State Park
Over in Queens, the East River Ferry will take you to this Long Island City park, with 4 piers. Choose from laying out in the sun, going fishing, running your pets, or enjoying a coffee with a view.
Hunts Point Landing
Even the Bronx is getting in on the action. This new fishing pier and park a part of the South Bronx Greenway revitalization project, with connecting bike paths and walkways.
Trip Advisor users have voted these as the top landmark piers to visit:
Trip Advisor also recommends the Weehawken Recreation Pier and Port Imperial in New Jersey.
Foursquare’s new fourth quarter of 2018 list of best places to visit include these piers and their gathering places.
New York City’s Historic Piers
The Manhattan Cruise Terminal, the New York passenger ship terminal aka Luxury Liner Row handles an estimated 1.5M passengers each year. At Hell’s Kitchen, the port originally encompassed, piers 88, 90, 92 and 94. The last two have been sold off.
The cruise liner piers have been regularly renovated to make room for larger and more modern ships. The Queen Mary 2 and Norwegen have cruised from this site.
The Manhattan Cruise Terminal piers were originally built to replace the Chelsea Piers in 1935. The Chelsea Piers was the destination the Titanic was headed for when it famously sank.
Since being converted into a sports and entertainment complex, the Chelsea Piers has been the site of over 25 movies. The Apprentice filmed 3 episodes here. The TV shows Law & Order, Law & Order SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent has all been filmed here. This was also the broadcast headquarters location for CBS Sports Network.
Brooklyn Bridge Park and its 6 piers occupy 85 acres on the East River waterfront in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. The park really came alive in 2008, with the construction being started using reclaimed soil from the World Trade Center site. However, this location has been important historically, dating back to George Washington in 1776 and the first ferry landing being opened here in 1642.
Many of New York City’s aged and once abandoned piers and waterfront spaces have been going through great transformations in recent years. Many have breathed new life into the city, and have become vibrant community spaces. For many years these piers were the entry ports of the immigrants who built this great country. Now that flying is more popular that sea travel, they are becoming major attractions for visitors flying in and are making life even better for the New Yorkers and Brooklynites who live near them.
Piers in Manhattan
The borough of Manhattan has around 100 piers fronting on the East River and Hudson River.
The Manhattan Cruise Terminal has become an award-winning transport point. Even winning the status of “Best US Homeport.” Beginning in 2004 the cruise terminal launched a $200M plus investment into renovations and updating.
Manhattan’s Pier 17 launched its inaugural rooftop concert series in the summer of 2018. 18 of the 23 events sold out. Acts included Slash, Dead Mau 5, and Ziggy Marley. Fresh new culinary options being added to the venue include offerings from chefs Jean Georges, David Chang, Andrew Carmellini and farm to table favorite Malibu Farm.
South of FDR Drive Pier 42 is awaiting the completion of major redevelopment in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Once a vibrant public space with live music events, the community still needs $80M or more to complete the project.
Pier Sixty, offers an absolutely magnificent collection of breathtaking event spaces. Take in amazing views of the water, with glass enclosed all-weather terrace for year-round weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, corporate award dinners, and philanthropic fundraisers.
As mentioned earlier, the Chelsea Piers has been reinvented. It is now premier sports and community destination. Visit and check out fitness clubs, over 25 sports, rock climbing, indoor soccer, golf, birthday party event spaces, the marina, pizza and the only year-round skating rink in the city.
For those looking for somewhere to let their four-legged friends be themselves, there are public dog parks in Chelsea, at Pier 84, Pier 40 in Greenwich Village and at Pier 26 in Tribeca.
Pier 84 is the largest public pier in Hudson River Park. Here you’ll find interactive activities for kids, a community compost dropoff, the dog park, a place to put your kayak in the water, and when the weather is good, a great place to relax and sunbathe.
As mentioned earlier piers 92 and 94 were sold off, and are now held by one of New York City’s largest investors and landholders – Vornado Property.
Piers in Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Bridge Park and its multiple piers and parks make for many fantastic weekend afternoons, morning runs, evening events and more.
You’ll find soccer fields, fun runs, an education center for the kids with aquarium, volleyball, and rolling hills for bathing in the sun.
For those that love the pier lifestyle at Pier 1, is Pier House, a collection of bright townhome style condominiums, with fantastic views over the parks and water. The forward-thinking architects of Pierhouse not only kept an enormous amount of glass for amazing views, but have built-in sustainability with a rainwater irrigation system, composting, and is expected to achieve LEED Silver Certification. Discover 18-foot ceilings and luxury stand-alone tubs. Plus, take advantage of an incredible collection of amenities, including a pet spa, children’s indoor playroom, fitness center, and meditation room, package acceptance, with refrigerators storage for grocery deliveries, and use of 1 Hotel facilities, spa, farm to table restaurant, and rooftop pool.
Also on Pier 1, enjoy outdoor play areas, dazzling views of Manhattan, artisanal lemonade at Lizzmonade, and transport via the NYC Ferry.
Pier 2 is perfect for those who love sports and want to get outdoors. Here you’ll find basketball, handball and bocce ball courts, a roller rink, fitness equipment, and kayaking.
Pier 6 offers a great day out for everyone. There is a dog run, volleyball courts, and five playgrounds, including the largest sandbox in New York and a water park. Plus a flower field and a seasonal ferry to Governors Island. Dine on pizza at Fornino’s, or climb aboard the schooner docked along the promenade to enjoy a taste of history and sustainable seafood.
Brooklyn Piers 7-12 saw new strategic development come together on this 120-acre waterfront site in 2008 incorporating industrial and creative spaces, cobbled street, and lots of open space.
New York has proven to continue to be a world-class innovator in the repurposing of its piers and waterfront spaces. In a sense, we are even making more land. A feat few imagined would happen.
The rebirth of these Manhattan and Brooklyn piers has created new destinations for international and domestic visitors, as well as building in an even greater sense of community, with countless healthy activities for locals and their families and pets.
If you liked this report, make sure you see our special report on Brooklyn’s 100-year plan, and what the future will look like here.
Also, please let us know your favorite pier in New York City and why you love it so much…