This post is about Little Island, an innovative floating island and public park located at Pier 55 in Chelsea that opened in 2021.
We go over hours, tickets, when you need reservations, and how to get here.
This 2.4-acre park is unlike any park you have seen before. It is on top of 132 concrete piles rising up from the Hudson River. The piles can best be described as ‘tulip pots'.
Some of the 'tulip pots' are as high as 62 feet above the Hudson River, offering dazzling views of New York and New Jersey.
The landscape is diverse, with green lawns, small slopes, and winding walkways. The park features hundreds of different species of plants and flowers
Also, there are two performance spaces: the 700-seat Amphitheater and the smaller Glade. Performances are either free or reasonably priced.
You can find out more about the activities at Little Island here.
Open 365 days a year, rain or shine! The hours are:
Sept 6, 2021 to Oct 31, 2021 6 am - 11:30 pm
Oct 31, 2021 to mid-March 2022 6 am - 8 pm
Note that on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays starting at 12 pm through the remainder of the day, free timed reservations are required for everyone except children under 3 years of age.
Entry reservations are every half-hour. You should arrive within 30 minutes of your reservation time.
The timed entry reservations are released four weeks at a time. They will fill up fast so be sure to book way in advance.
Tickets may be printed out or shown from your mobile phone.
You can book a free reservation online or in person at the park entrance.
How to Get There
Little Island is located at Pier 55 in Hudson River Park at West 13th Street. The easiest way to get there is by the subway.
The closest subways are:
- 1/2/3 train to 14th Street and 7th Avenue
- A/C/E and L to 14th Street and 8th Avenue
Click here for a Google map that will give you exact directions to Little Island from your departure point.
Tip: If you are new to using the subway system, you may find our guide to Navigating the New York Subway useful.
Just north of Little Island is another of New York City's innovative parks, the High Line.
This self-guided tour is a brief overview of Little Island’s sites. Little Island is indeed little, and you could walk its quickest route and see all its sites in 15 minutes.
We recommend setting aside at least 30 minutes so you can take in the spectacular views and wander its windy paths and take in the massive array of species of plant and flower life.
On Little Island, there are 30 species of trees, 65 species of shrubs, close to 300 varieties of grasses and vines, and 66,000 bulbs! For those interested in both the amazing flora and fauna of Little Island as well as some of its architectural aspects, check out the official Little Island audio tour.
If you want to learn about the history of Little Island, watch our video above!
To get on and off Little Island, there are two pedestrian bridges, the North Bridge and the South Bridge. As an interesting side note, the architects of Little Island deliberately designed the bridges to slope at the same gradient as the two ramps at the famed Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center.
1. Pier 54 and the South Bridge
The South Bridge connects Little Island (also known as Pier 55) to the mainland, where Pier 54 was once located. Pier 54 has a storied past, most notably its connection to the sinking of the Titanic.
In 1910, Pier 54 was the point of departure and arrival of trans-Atlantic ocean liners operated by the Cunard-White Star line. In 1912, the Titanic ocean liner struck an iceberg and sank, killing nearly 1,500 passengers.
Fortunately, another Cunard ocean liner, the Carpathia, was nearby and able to rescue some 700 survivors who were brought to safety at Pier 54. At the foot of the South Bridge is a giant steel arch, the sole remains of the Cunard-White Star building.
Pier 54 was also the dock used by another luxury liner, the Lusitania. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the sinking of the Lusitania by German U-boats was one of the main catalysts for the U.S. entering into World War I. The pier eventually ceased commercial operations.
From the 1970s to the early 80s, Pier 54 was a location where members of NYC's growing LGBTQ community could socialize without fear of harassment. In 1986, Pier 54 began hosting the annual Dance on the Pier which is part of Gay Pride Week every June.
In 1998, Pier 54 was integrated into Hudson River Park and was used for concerts, outdoor movies and other cultural events. But in 2011, the pier was shut down as it started to collapse. A year later, Hurricane Sandy swept through NYC and damaged several piers along the Hudson, including the already collapsing Pier 54. The wooden piles on the south side of Little Island are the last bit of Pier 54 that remains.
Perhaps these old wooden piles that surround Little Island are an eyesore. But they won't be removed any time soon so as not to disturb the existing marine ecosystems in the area.
2. Main Lawn
This lush patch of green has a few “rolling hills”. While it is certainly beautiful, the Main Lawn is not for sitting! There are rules about sitting on the grass at different times of the year to protect the plantings, so before laying down your picnic blanket, see if anyone else is on the lawn. If not, best you move on!
For rolling hills that you can not only enjoy but also get great views of NYC, visit The Hills at Governors Island.
3. The Glade
This is one of two performance spaces. This mini-amphitheater hosts various music, dance, poetry, and comedy shows.
4. Southwest Overlook
Little Island’s highest point (63 feet above the Hudson River) has incredible views, making it the most popular location on the island. From here you can see the skyline of Lower Manhattan, including the towering One World Trade Center.
Amazingly, you can even see the Statue of Liberty! Also, look for a building topped by a triangular roof that is light green. This is the relatively little Woolworth Building, once the tallest building in the world!
6. Scenic view
Along the main path between the Southwest Overlook and the Amphitheater, you will have a beautiful view of Midtown Manhattan.
With seating for 700 people, this attractive outdoor amphitheater is a lovely place to see performances, concerts, and other types of shows.
Performances are either free or highly affordable. See what’s playing here.
8. Northwest Overlook
Here you are looking out over the Hudson River and New Jersey. To your right is a large sea green-colored structure across from Little Island is Pier 57. It was built in 1952 as a terminal for the shipping and storage of cargo. When shipping operations ceased, the pier was used as a parking lot for NYC buses.
As of 2020, Pier 57 is in the process of being turned into a multi-use public/private complex with a marketplace, restaurant and several outdoor public spaces, including a roof-top park, with views to rival those of Little Island!
9. The Play Ground
Don’t be fooled by the name! It is not a children’s playground, but rather a large paved plaza. In the warmer months, you will find metal tables and chairs underneath large umbrellas that provide shade.
With three concession stands selling a variety of cuisines and drinks, the Play Ground is the perfect spot to enjoy a snack. You can also buy great food at the nearby Chelsea Market.
10. North Bridge
As you walk along the bridge back toward the mainland, you will see to your left, rows of wood piles sticking out of the river. These are all that remain of what was Pier 56.
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