New York’s newest island, a man-made gift to the city

It seems like one thing a baby might need imagined: a mirage of an island floating above the Hudson River. Eccentric, over-the-top, enjoyable! “It is leaving town, going to Oz,” mentioned billionaire Barry Diller.

Little Island is Diller and his spouse, clothier Diane von Furstenberg’s, $260 million current to the Metropolis of New York, topped not by a bow, however a man-made magic mountain.

Changing a derelict pier on the Hudson River, the $260 million Little Island is a brand new public area and efficiency venue constructed on high of concrete pilings formed like tulips.

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“I stored saying, ‘No, make it increased, make it increased,'” Diller instructed correspondent Martha Teichner. “What I did not understand is while you stand up right here and also you go searching, it is so superb.”

Name it the top of Diller’s ambition. “What I’d say is, may we construct one thing that might be form of an icon for town, an icon of New York?” he mentioned.

“Simply by it, immediately everyone is aware of what it’s?” requested Teichner.

“That positively is what occurred,” von Furstenberg mentioned.


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100 and thirty-two concrete pilings (known as “tulips”), maintain up Little Island, designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick.

Diller’s favourite spot: a view capturing the peak of the columns above the water. 


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Von Furstenberg’s favourite spot: the 687-seat amphitheater. “What you’re feeling while you’re right here is simply gratefulness and gratitude and happiness,” she mentioned.

And judging from the response to a latest live performance right here, it is a joyful place to recover from COVID confinement.


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The positioning of Little Island is the previous Pier 54. In its historic heyday, the ship carrying the survivors of the Titanic docked there; a number of years later, the Lusitania started its doomed voyage from the exact same spot.

Superstorm Sandy, in 2012, did in Pier 54. Like a lot of Manhattan’s West Aspect waterfront, it was derelict, and had been deteriorating for many years.

“The waterfront was actually decrepit, and the piers had been crumbling,” mentioned Michael Kimmelman, structure critic for The New York Occasions. “The story of the West Aspect grew to become the story of Manhattan’s reinvention, and the West Aspect right here got here to be reinvented as a park, basically.”

Earlier than Little Island, DVF and BD (as they refer to one another) poured $40 million into the Excessive Line, an deserted elevated railroad a number of blocks away that was became a park – so common it has been broadly copied.

Teichner requested, “Will they be constructing Little Islands all over?”

Kimmelman replied, “I do not know if different individuals will, as a result of nearly no public cash was spent.

That is troublesome to do in different cities.”

In his review, Kimmelman – a fan of Little Island – raises the query: Ought to billionaires be remaking public areas?

“We won’t simply depend on wealthy individuals and their sense that they need to construct one thing and the place they resolve to construct it, to construct an equitable, truthful, wholesome metropolis,” Kimmelman mentioned. “That does not imply that this park, nevertheless, is just not an asset for everybody within the metropolis.”

Setting up Little Island. 

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Diller mentioned, “We’re fortunate. We have assets, so we may construct one thing that was surprising. Do now we have the proper to? No, however in truth, this was a torn-down pier through which nothing however a flat area was gonna change it.”

And guests appear to love what they obtained as a substitute.

One younger lady mentioned, “It is a gathering place for everybody. That is what we’d like proper now.”

One man declared, “I find it irresistible. I just like the panorama of it and completely different ranges.”

Diller and von Furstenberg have pledged one other $120 million to take care of the park and pay for programming over the following 20 years.

Teichner requested, “Why did the 2 of you resolve to place your cash on the West Aspect of Manhattan, versus endowing a hospital wing or one thing like that?”

“I really like public areas,” Diller mentioned. “They are not curing a illness, however they permit civic life to be higher. I see individuals strolling throughout that bridge in enormous numbers, and it makes them actually glad, and all they do is smile!”

Sundown over the Hudson River. 

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At nightfall, the amphitheater fills up – possibly essentially the most photogenic spot on a camera-ready island. The nightly present is the sundown over the Hudson. Right here on Little Island, a spot to look and chuckle and kiss, till the solar is gone.

After which, simply flip round, and watch the moon rise over town.

Moonrise over Manhattan.

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For more information:

Story produced by Mark Hudspeth. Editor: Remington Korper.


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