Liberty Park opens at WTC

Photo by Catherine McVay Hughes The one-acre elevated park in the heart of Downtown includes 19 planters filled with more than 50 trees, as well as shrubs and perennial flowers, offering visitors an escape from the frenetic bustle of Lower Manhattan life.

Photo by Catherine McVay Hughes
The one-acre elevated park in the heart of Downtown includes 19 planters filled with more than 50 trees, as well as shrubs and perennial flowers, offering visitors an escape from the frenetic bustle of Lower Manhattan life.

BY YANNIC RACK

Lower Manhattan now has its very own High Line.

Liberty Park, the long-awaited elevated green space overlooking the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center, welcomed its first visitors this Wednesday.

The one-acre park sits 25 feet high atop the WTC Vehicle Security Center on Liberty St. and includes more than 50 trees, ample seating and a “Living Wall” of greenery along the building’s north façade.

“This is a site for reflection, lunch, passing the time — and it’s got a very unique perspective of the 9/11 Museum and the memorial pools,” said Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority, which owns the WTC site, shortly after the park was opened to the public at 11:45 a.m. on June 29.

At the opening, many a visitor could be heard remarking on the similarity to the popular High Line further uptown — and even Foye couldn’t help but invoke the iconic park in his remarks.

“As a matter of fact, if you leave here and walk up Greenwich Street, you’ll hit the High Line,” he said.

Locals were glad to see the facility’s rooftop being put to good — and public — use.

“It was almost just going to be the top of another garage. And with community input, it has become a wonderful green space,” said outgoing Community Board 1 chairwoman Catherine McVay Hughes. “We’re very grateful to have this here.”

The $50-million plaza was designed by landscape architect Stephen E. Brown of AECOM and offers views of the towering 1 WTC. It connects directly Battery Park City’s high-end Brookfield Place shopping center across West St. via the Liberty St. Pedestrian Bridge, which also opened on Wednesday.

“I congratulate the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on the opening of Liberty Park and Liberty Park Bridge, beginning a new chapter in the history of lower Manhattan,” said Shari Hyman, president of the Battery Park City Authority. “The connective tissue between Battery Park City and the larger Downtown community is now complete, drawing together two neighborhoods in a shared future.”

The park, which will be open 24 hours year-round, includes 19 planters filled with trees, shrubs and perennial flowers. Last month, a sapling grown from the original horse chestnut tree in Amsterdam that inspired Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis was planted there.

One of the park’s most striking features is the 336-foot long “Living Wall” — a vertical garden that runs along the north façade on Liberty St. to mask its driveways with 22,000 plants.

In addition, the park functions as a green roof for the vehicle security center and has several other sustainable features, including guardrails and benches made of reclaimed teakwood, as well as efficient LED lighting.

Even though some have been anticipating the green space’s unveiling for quite some time, most of the park-goers who came on Wednesday seemed to have just stumbled across the elevated park by chance on its opening day.

“It’s beautiful. It’s so nice that you can look down on everything,” said Sashi Racho, who was visiting the nearby memorial with her brother, in town for a visit from Perth, Australia. “And you can hear the pools, the waterfalls, but not see them. It’s so pretty.”

“Everything looks so beautiful. I had no idea it was opening today,” said Battery Park City resident Sarah Maznavi, who was pushing her 3-week-old son through the park in a stroller. “And it will be even more impressive once they open the Orthodox Church.”

While the park is largely complete, construction continues on its eastern end, where the St. Nicholas National Shrine is being built.

The Greek Orthodox shrine, a Santiago Calatrava-designed reincarnation of St. Nicholas Church, which was destroyed during 9/11, is scheduled to open in 2018.

Miranda Darcy, who lives in New Jersey but is training for her job in the city, was busy taking pictures of the park as it filled with visitors.

“It’s not every day you get to see something like this in NYC on its very first day,” she said, adding that the park felt like nice gesture to a community still shaped by 9/11. “The people down here really deserve it, after what they’ve been through,” she said.

 

Photo by Yannic Rack Though filled with trees and flowers, Liberty Park also offers impressive urban vistas of Downtown.

Photo by Yannic Rack
Though filled with trees and flowers, Liberty Park also offers impressive urban vistas of Downtown.

Spread the word:

One Response to Liberty Park opens at WTC

  1. Sympathetic to the residents of the WTC neighborhood. Fifteen years of 9/11-related demolition, rebuilding, etc. Plus, seemingly endless rebuilding of West Side Highway, preceding 9/11.

    That being said — Please, spare us the whining about this parklet called Liberty Park. Yes, the WTC grounds have been purposely designed as a Tourist Attraction / P.C. mourning zone. And yes, the WTC Koenig Sphere belongs directly between the two footprint fountains (will never happen). But Liberty Park has never been designed to be a playground park, or a jogging park, or a picnic park. It is a home for the Greek Orthodox church, some benches and plantings. A good place for a bag lunch for nearby workers and residents, but not much else.

    The thought that including the 9/11 Sphere will somehow ruin or alter the potential of this “park” (I hesitate to even call it a park), strikes me as ridiculous. The very fact that it sits adjacent to, and higher than the 9/11 Memorial assures that it will be overwhelmed with tourists and gawkers (fate sealed, by design).

    Meanwhile, the fabulous WFC waterfront sits, just steps away. Enabling all to begin promenade journeys in either direction, for as long as they care to venture. Also, there are select park spaces and ball fields to the immediate west of the West Side Highway, and also, between some of the Battery Park City residences. In terms of park facilities — these exceed the recreational resources of virtually all Manhattan neighborhood, south of 59th St (OK, include East River Park, if you desire).

    As a downtown resident and worker (WTC), I ask — PLEASE cease whining over the potential loss of park space, due to the placement of the Koenig Sphere in Liberty Park. Tourist will flood the park anyway, looking for vantage points of the WTC fountains (despite tree cover). You have FAR more convenient, recreation space than almost all NYers. You have not lost ballfields, or strolling gardens. You just need to walk another 5-10 minutes west, and find more than you will ever use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


+ seven = 14