Shoreline Configuration

Shoreline Configuration

The character of the Blueway shoreline is mostly hard bulkhead and pile foundation. There are very few locations along the waterfront with soft edges that are natural or where people
can actually get down to the water edge. Less than 6% of the shoreline within the site extent represents constructed coves or naturally occurring habitats.

Among the few locations where one can find a naturally occurring habitat is below the Brooklyn Bridge (see the map above). Just south of the Brooklyn Bridge, the esplanade is supported on pile foundations over rip rap. Below the Bridge, the shoreline transitions to a bulkhead with the beach extending out into the water. This area is the only location along the site with a naturally forming beach. This beach is currently inaccessible to the public and continues along the site for about 500 feet from the bridge, and then the shoreline becomes a hard bulkhead.

The hard bulkhead is the predominant condition throughout. The shoreline changes to a pile foundation at Pier 34, 35 and 42, but goes back to a hard bulkhead throughout the extent of East River Park, interrupted only at two locations where there are constructed coves with pedestrian bridges over the water.

The maps above show the different shoreline types found along the Blueway.

Regulatory Context

Regulatory Context

New York City’s Zoning Resolution includes specific regulations for waterfront zoning with the goal to maximize public access to the waterfront areas while enabling redevelopment along the shoreline. Waterfront zoning applies to properties within waterfront blocks and regulates the location, form, and size of new waterfront developments. In addition, waterfront zoning also determines the amount, quality and programming of required waterfront public access areas, which are mandated along the shoreline.

All waterfront lots are required to provide public access areas, including on piers, platforms, and floating structures, like the photos above. Waterfront zoning governs what these public access areas look like and where they are located. The access areas are typically comprised of three components: Shore Public Walkways (required to be located on the waterfront), Upland Connections (required to ensure direct access to shore public walkway from upland streets), and Supplemental Public Access Area (required if minimum area requirement for public access area on specific zoning lot is not fulfilled). Waterfront zoning also requires visual corridors, which are unobstructed linear spaces that provide waterfront views from upland streets.

The Blueway will need to demonstrate consistency with the city’s Waterfront Revitalization Program. Primary objectives of the Program include reducing damage from flooding, protecting water quality and aquatic ecosystems, reusing abandoned waterfront structures, and promoting development with appropriate land uses.

Transportation + Access

Transportation + Access

Accessibility is usually measured by a 10-minute walking distance (1/2 mile) to reach destinations, such as parks and open space. There are 16 pedestrian access points – five overpass crossings, and 11 at-grade crossings with crosswalks. In comparison, there are 28 at-grade crossings and three overpass crossings within a similar distance at Route 9A on Manhattan’s west side.

Accessibility to these 16 pedestrian access points and the waterfront is low in the southern tip of the study area. High accessibility areas are the northern section of Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, and portions of Kips Bay further north to East 30th Street east of 2nd Avenue.

In most cases, there are structures in the way that prevent access points, such as FDR on- and off-ramps (e.g. at Gouverneur Slip, eastbound), barriers (e.g. at Grand Street, East 36th Street, leading to FDR Drive, which is elevated), and designated and fenced-in parking spaces.

Pedestrians can also access the East River waterfront by public transportation. The walking distance from subway stations to South Street or the FDR Service Road varies from 0.3 miles to 0.8 miles. Several New York City bus lines provide transportation much closer to the East River waterfront than the subway.

Improvements of existing pedestrian access points, and new pedestrian access points at grade, crosswalks, and pedestrian signals should be installed to the north and south of these intersections. Wherever possible elevated medians or pedestrian refuge areas (at grade) should be constructed under the FDR Drive.

Recent Articles

Recent Articles


New York Post. NY’s East ‘Riviera’: River plan for beach a beauty.  May 4, 2013.

A new plan being pushed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh would redesign Manhattan’s East Side into a recreation destination while at the same time working to protect the city from future storm flooding.


The Real Deal. Blueway plan calls for public beach under Brooklyn Bridge. May 3, 2013.

The plan, by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and state Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, would overhaul the waterfront on the east side, between East 38th Street and the Brooklyn Bridge. The proposal, which does not yet have a budget or a timeline, would improve public safety by creating stronger barriers during flooding from weather events like Hurricane Sandy and also provide new public spaces, Stringer told DNAinfo. A natural beach beneath the bridge would become a public space with amenities and concession stands under the updated plan.


Animal. East River Blueway Plan Revealed at Last. May 3, 2013.

The vision has been brewing for years now: a more sustainable and recreation-friendly shoreline along the East River between the Brooklyn Bridge and 38th Street. Until now, several hurdles, including Hurricane Sandy, have prevented the initiative from moving forward, but hot damn, it was worth the wait! Ready for these proposals?


NYC Prowler. New East River Blueway Plan Features Brooklyn Bridge Beach. May 3, 2013.

The East River Blueway Plan that was unveiled Thursday evening at a at a public meeting at the Cooper Union. East River Park and the rest of Lower Manhattan’s East River waterfront has long lagged behind the immaculately landscaped west side of Manhattan – abandoned piers, the old fish market, and other derelict/abandoned industrial buildings dot the lower east side’s edge.


Curbed. New East River Blueway Renderings, Details Revealed! May 3, 2013.

Most of the cool stuff—a beach under the Brooklyn Bridge, salt marshes, a swooping pedestrian bridge—had already been revealed, but we got a few new looks at what the Blueway aims to create (compiled with the previously-released renderings in the gallery above) and how it can protect our waterfront. The Blueway plans were in the works for a year before Hurricane Sandy hit, but the designers said the damage wrought by the storm put even more impetus on mapping out the Blueway.


DNA Info. Complete East River Blueway Plan Features Brooklyn Bridge Beach. May 3, 2013.

The latest step in an effort to re-imagine the waterfront between East 38th Street and the Brooklyn Bridge as a refuge from city living. The Blueway would create public leisure spots and amenities while also including measures to protect the waterfront from extreme weather.


NY Daily News. Bill would raise the bar for NYCHA’s plan to lease public land for luxury developments.  May 2, 2013.

Manhattan legislators want to make the Housing Authority dramatically increase public input into its plan to lease land for luxury housing. The officials filed a bill requiring NYCHA — which they charge has been secretive in pushing the proposal — to face the same tough scrutiny ordinary developers endure, the Daily News has learned.


Sustainable Cities Collective. East River Waterfront Blueway Responds to Superstorm Sandy, Design Challenges.  May 2, 2013.

Currently in the design phase, the 4-mile-long project would stretch from the Brooklyn Bridge north to East 38th Street and reinvigorate one of Manhattan’s least accessible waterfronts. It would build wetlands, pedestrian bridges, parks, a bike and walking path, and even a sandy beach underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. The wetlands would not only improve aesthetics but also act as a storm barrier against tidal surges from future superstorms like Sandy.


Crain’s. Plan aims to fill gaps in East River greenway.  May 2, 2013.

“These spaces can be so much more than bridges,” Claire Weisz, principal at WXY, said. “They can function as park space and destinations in and of themselves, really helping to draw people to the park.”


Curbed. Wavy Walls In Madison Square Park; East River Blueway Plans.  May 1, 2013.

Tomorrow architecture firm WXY will join local officials and Manhattan community boards to unveil plans for the East River Blueway. We’ve talked about the proposal before, and now officials want to invite the public to help create a “community-based roadmap to bring amenities and storm mitigation measures to the East River.” The fun starts at 6 p.m. at the Cooper Union.


The Villager. Stringer plants idea for wetlands along East River.  February 28, 2013.

The proposal is an outline of methods to help prevent future storms from causing destruction on the level of Sandy again. Among the methods proposed is the construction of artificial wetlands along the East River shore. Wetlands like this naturally act as a buffer against powerful storms and the dangerous surges they produce.


Town & Village Blog. Op-Ed: The East River Blueway: A model for all five boroughs.  February 21, 2013.

We hoped to redesign an often forgotten stretch of our East Side waterfront, from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 38th Street. Our objective was to open up the long-neglected area, creating beachfront access, recreational activities, tree-lined walkways, and other amenities that would bring people closer to the water. But we also knew that we had to protect this low-lying area from storms and flooding.


Office of Brian Kavanagh. Kavanagh and Stringer Preview New Vision for East River Waterfront.  February 7, 2013.

The Plan is intended to promote greater access and recreational opportunities along the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 38th Street, while also creating new infrastructure and ecological features that will protect East Side communities against flooding from the river during storms.


New York Times. A Plan Aims to Reconnect Residents With the East River Waterfront.  February 6, 2013.

“We want very much to open the waterfront from a recreation perspective, but we also want to protect our fragile waterfront from Mother Nature by recognizing the reality of storm surges,” Mr. Stringer said in a phone interview. “What’s novel here is that we actually remedy some of the issues with storm surges through amenity enhancements for the public.”


New York Press. In Recovery: How Sandy Reset Our Waterfront Dreams.  November 21, 2012.

As the storm’s impact on ecological systems and infrastructure becomes clear, what steps should be taken to secure the city against future floods?


New York Magazine. First Look: Reinventing the Lower East River. October 24 2012.

“For too long, the river has been forgotten. It’s hidden behind a highway suffering from years of disinvestment and neglect,” says Stringer. The firm behind the transformation, WXY Architecture + Urban Design, spent the past year brainstorming ideas with local residents and organizations. Its goal, said principal Claire Weisz, is to “bring nature to the city.” WXY has granted New York Magazine an exclusive preview of some of the proposed plans.


Urban Omnibus. Making Connections: Planning for Green Infrastructure in Two Bridges. August 8 2012.

Kerri Culhane, an urban historian, planner and designer, explains how geographical, historical and architectural factors converge to make the community where she works, the Lower East Side’s Two Bridges neighborhood, uniquely suited to put green infrastructure into action.


The Architect’s Newspaper. East Side Story. August 6 2012.

The waterfront of Lower Manhattan, a vestige of maritime commerce and industrial conditions suitable for the dockworkers of centuries past, is slated for yet another face-lift. The East River, a tidal strait connecting the Harlem River to the Upper Bay of the New York Harbor, has been in the limelight recently.


New York Times City Room. City Rolls Out a Rocky Welcome Mat for Mussels. July 27 2012.

Now don’t start chopping shallots, but we thought you’d be interested to know that an artificial mussel bed — believed to be the first of its kind along the city shoreline — is under construction on the East River.


The Villager. Waterfront work: East Siders dream of river schemes. July 4 2012.

It was an evening of imagination and dreams for residents of the New York City Housing Authority’s Bernard Baruch and Lillian Wald Houses on Thurs., June 28, as a small group of them gathered to help elected officials and city planners shape the future revitalization of East River Park.


The Local East Village. East River Park Gets a Touch-Up, and Ideas for a Facelift. June 8 2012.

After five weekends of weeding, mulching and painting, the women of the New York Junior League will unveil upgrades at East River Park tomorrow. The Playground Improvement Project, a committee of the league, volunteered its time throughout the spring to beautify 57 acres of riverfront between East 12th Street and Montgomery Street.


UrbanOmnibus. The East River Blueway Plan. May 30 2012.

UrbanOmnibus sat down with Adam Lubinsky, a managing principal at WXY, to discuss the process behind the East River Blueway Plan. The potential of New York City’s waterways extends beyond riverfront open space or residential real estate with river views. But to get past the water’s edge, as Lubinsky tells us in the interview, requires a multivalent strategy of community engagement, urban planning and design.


The Local East Village. Swimming Pools in the East River? Maybe. But First, Marshes. April 16 2012.

Swimming pools in the East River? Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer floated the idea in a video introduction to the Blueway, a project that would revitalize a stretch of the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge to Midtown East. And it’s not as farfetched as you’d think: the historically polluted waterway is perfectly swimmable by Environmental Protection Agency standards. There’s just one problem: sewage overflows.


The Epoch Times. Blueway for East River Waterfront Moves Forward. April 16 2012.

Manhattan’s East River waterfront is a work in progress. The pier for the new ferry stop off of 34th Street, for example, is nothing but a narrow floating walkway surrounded by construction on either side.


DNA Info. Floating Pools Among Resident Ideas for East River ‘Blueway’  April 10 2012.

The Local East Village. Pols, Residents Ponder: What Should East River ‘Blueway’ Look Like? April 10 2012.

“The west side has the High Line, Hudson River Park, Chelsea Piers,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer at the first community-wide planning meeting for the East River Blueway. “Now it’s time for the East Side to have an iconic outdoor space.”


DNA Info. Floating Pools Among Resident Ideas for East River ‘Blueway’  April 10 2012.

A series of floating pools dotting Manhattan’s East River shore or elevating the heliport on East 34th Street to create more open space were among the bold visions several dozen community members suggested Monday night at a public forum about re-imagining the waterfront.

The Epoch Times. Vision 2020 Waterfront Plan Earns Planning Excellence Award. April 10 2012.

Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, won the Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan from the American Planning Association.

Read more …


New York Observer. Surfs Up on the East River: Pols and Planners Team Up to Create East River Blueway. March 27 2012.

It’s almost surf season in the Rockaways! But if that is too far, don’t worry—just head over to the East River Blueway.

Read more …


Curbed. Blueways Are The New Greenways in New York. March 22 2012.

The East River Waterfront greenway project is taking forever. With the U.N. land swap, demolition of power plants, and navigation of design and approval of different piers, it’s no wonder that someone looked to the river just off Manhattan’s eastern shore as a more easily navigable planning environment to get things done. Enter the East River Blueway—a plan to connect neighborhoods on the waterfront and integrate recreational facilities with the East River between the Brooklyn Bridge and East 38th Street.

Read more …


DNA Info. Design Firm Chosen for East River ‘Blueway’ Project. March 22 2012.

Plans to build a greenway along the East River have captured much public and political attention in recent months. But a complementary proposal for an “East River Blueway,” which officials first floated two years ago, is now gaining momentum.

Read more …


New York Post. Lower E. Side Riverfront of Dreams. Jan 29 2012.

A beach could be coming to the Lower East Side soon.

Work on the last link in a chain of parks around downtown Manhattan is set to begin in June, thanks to $16 million in recently approved funding.

Read more …


Curbed. Pier 42 Gets The Hook in Favor of Parkland. Jan 26 2012.

The abandoned shed on Pier 42 just west of Corlear’s Hook at Gouvernor Street will not be used as a way station for construction trucks and materials, after funding was secured to turn the Manhattan pier into a park and continuation of the East River Greenway around lower Manhattan.

Read more …


DNA Info
Watch Out Hamptons – Planning Begins for East River Blueway. June 11 2010.


The LoDown
East River Projects to be Discussed Tonight. June 10 2010.


DNA Info
East River Waterfront to Become a Stretch of Pools and Parks February 5 2010.

About The Project

About The Project

The East River Blueway Plan wishes everyone a safe and quick recovery! If you have any pictures of the storm surge or the effects of Hurricane Sandy, please post them on our interactive map or tag them to our instagram account @eastriverblueway. Click to download the FINAL REPORT.

About The East River Blueway Plan

The Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in collaboration with the Office of New York State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and other partners, with funding provided by the New York State Department of State, has commissioned a team led by WXY Architecture + Urban Design to develop the East River Blueway Plan, a community- based waterfront planning initiative. The project will consider Manhattan’s East River waterfront between the Brooklyn Bridge and East 38th Street. This stretch of Manhattan’s shoreline faces challenges that prevent greater waterfront public access.

The East River Blueway Plan will be the foundation for an interconnected network of waterfront sites. This network will integrate recreational activities and connect neighborhoods to the waterfront. Our work will include visioning; feasibility of locating on-water sites; design and costs; and implementation and campaign strategies for the East River Blueway.

We are excited to collect your thoughts. Please click on the “Map Your Ideas” button to the left to share your vision for the East River waterfront.

Study Area

Study Area

The study area, extending from the Brooklyn Bridge overpass to Glick Park at East 38th Street, encompasses more than a four-mile length along the East River and 1,500 feet upland of the River in order to understand the adjacent neighborhood character.