An Island Escape

During the hot, humid days of August in New York City it’s always nice to find a retreat, which usually means heading to one of the many public parks that are available for shade and a cool breeze. Of course the parks are land-based and can be found on even the smallest parcel of land throughout the five boroughs.

There is one, however, that stands out from the rest and is a unique experience unto itself. Little Island, the park designed and created through a joint collaboration with the famed architectural firm Heatherwick Studio in London with landscape design by Signe Nielsen of MNLA, is a park built on a series of 132 concrete “tulips” that are placed at various heights and conjoined in the Hudson River and filled with soil and planted with an extensive variety of grasses, trees, flowers and shrubs. The clever design is not only appealing to the eye but keeps marine life intact with very little disturbance.

Walking across a wide, wooden “gangplank” at the end of 14th Street to enter, the island is completely enchanting, with its open, rolling hills, circuitous pathways, a beautiful amphitheatre for outdoor performances, whimsical sculptures and stunning views of both the New York and New Jersey skylines.

The day I visited there was a pool blue sky with fluffy clouds accompanied by a Brazilian duo singing Bossa Nova on a staging area near the entrance and the songs carried out through the various areas of the park. What a welcome!

The charm of the park lies in its duality—you realize you’re over the water and yet you also have the sense that you’re on land, just at the precipice of the river, depending on your location and vantage point.

The amphitheatre can seat 687 patrons.

It’s a delightful way to spend an afternoon and, as the park is open year round, worth visiting throughout the seasons to see how the foliage changes. There is also a food and beverage area with shaded places to eat and drink.

Spumoni colored chairs and tables in the shaded eating area.

Little Island is a gift to the city (thanks to the financing of Barry Diller and the Diller-Von Furstenberg Family Foundation) and a gem in the collection of public parks in NYC.

I really felt a sense of being on vacation when I was there and there’s no better feeling of escape than that!