Little Island is a unique treat, a gift for York City from television mogul Barry Diller. Diller is putting in upwards of $350 million of his own money for building and maintaining it for 20 years. It’s free, but timed tickets are required.
By David Stone
Locals as well as visitors always look for fun things to do in New York City. When they’re free and different, it’s even better, and Little Island fits both counts.
Park hours are from 6:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m., and there’s an active calendar of events here.
And it’s easy to get there. By subway, take either the L or the A, C or E to 14th Street and 8th Avenue. Little Island is near the west end of 14th Street, across the West Side Highway from Chelsea Market.
It’s a five minute walk, or you can take any of the M14 SBS buses all the way down to 11th Avenue.
Here’s something interesting — The park sits where, in 1912, the R.M.S. Carpathia brought home survivors of the Titanic.
You can learn a lot about the park’s genesis and features from Michael Kimmelman’s New York Times article. For our purposes, though, we’ll take a visual walking tour, giving readers a feel for the experience.
A walk through Little Island
Little Island is less of an amusement park even than Central Park, but there’s plenty for turning kids as well as adults on.
Entering the park is more than a little like walking across a moot into, not a castle, but a green grass and flowers world of its own.
Posts sunk in the Hudson support the floating park at varying heights, creating levels along sweeping, paved pathways.
A swirl of pathways opens up to nature without being natural. A variety of trees, plants and seasonal flowers are with you, every step of the way.
Rocks are for climbing between foliage-filled tiers.
Abundant seating under tents are arranged in the middle of an area where colorful trucks serve drinks and snacks.
Not finding any ice cream, frozen yogurt of gelato was a bit of a surprise, but in keeping with the environmental-savvy focus.
River views show a changing waterfront where piers have either been transformed or abandoned.
In the foreground, a former Department of Sanitation site is being reborn while old piers waste in the salt water. Past downtown and the World Trade Center, the harbor opens up under the Verrazano Bridge, Staten Island in the distance.
Immediately inside Little Island, a plaza offers several directions. You chose. Clean restrooms are nearby.
On the day we were there, kids were rolling freely down the hill, and adults sat on the grass, people-watching.
Unforgettable pleasures around Little Island are pockets of thoughtfully curated flowers.
Little Island makes room for two performance venues. The one above hosts performances with a spacious Hudson River landscape for backdrop, and another smaller venue on the southside welcomes more intimate events.
Little Island really is a great spot to pass a lazy afternoon or evening, and there’s plenty for keeping kids active and engaged. Barry Diller generously pays for upkeep and maintenance for the next twenty years; so, a safe, quality visit is already assured.
For timed tickets, scheduled events and more, click here.