“NYC 520: Celebrating 520 Miles of Waterfront for Everyone” will bring New Yorkers together to learn about the vitality of the shoreline The “5/20” festivities come as the “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality” initiative, which seeks to support New Yorkers aiming to reduce their carbon footprint, moves through public review.
Alongside four not-for-profit organizations and the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Dan Garodnick announced a series of free events to celebrate New York City’s 520 miles of waterfront on Saturday, May 20 – or 5/20. Centered on the theme of “520 Miles of Waterfront for Everyone,” these events will highlight local efforts to enhance access to and awareness of unique waterfront spaces throughout the city.
“Our 520 miles of waterfront is longer than Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco combined – and we believe that every New Yorker should have easy access to its bays and beaches, its estuaries, and its rivers to relax and connect with nature. As we work to protect our city and our shoreline from the worse effects of climate change, let’s celebrate them together this Saturday,” said DCP Director Dan Garodnick. “Thanks to DCP planners and to the advocates and artists who cherish our shoreline parks as much as we do.”
5/20 comes during the public review period for DCP’s City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality, a citywide initiative to modernize zoning to facilitate the use of climate solutions, such as solar panels, permeable pavement, and building retrofits, improving New York City’s sustainability and helping to lessen the impact of climate change on our shorelines.
“New York is a city of water, and as the stewards of much of the City’s diverse waterfront properties, we are excited to join this celebration of ‘520 Miles of Waterfront for Everyone,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “With our recently opened parks at Pier 42 on the Lower East Side and Starlight Park in the Bronx, we are focused on expanding waterfront access to all New Yorkers, and look forward to continued coordination with our sister agencies on increasing awareness of and access to our shoreline.”
“Our plans for a seven-mile greenway along the Bronx side of the Harlem River will reconnect Bronxites to their waterfront, unlock new green spaces from Van Cortlandt Park to Randall’s Island Park, and create a key bicycle and pedestrian corridor for commuters and recreational users,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We welcome residents to join us for this walk to learn more about our planning process and the opportunities along the waterfront and thank DCP for organizing these great events.”
“We have a duty to ensure our city’s 520 miles of waterfront are healthy and resilient and benefit all New Yorkers,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “The events of 5/20 will help accomplish this by raising awareness about our waterfront and its importance to our well-being. I encourage all Queens residents to take part in one or more of these 5/20 events, and to be a part of the continuing effort to achieve and maintain a healthy and accessible waterfront.”
“Staten Island’s waterfront remains a glistening jewel in New York Harbor. The Borough of Parks boasts plentiful beaches and coastline, along with prime coastal sites waiting to be improved and enhanced for all of Staten Island to enjoy and discover. Let’s work together to ensure our future generations have expanded waterfront open spaces and parks that will allow them to explore NYC’s coastline, learn hands-on about our local marine life, and pave the way for the resiliency of our city,” said Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella.
“As Chair for the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection, Resiliency, & Waterfronts I would like to encourage all New Yorkers to come out and enjoy DCP’s 5/20 Waterfront Events. New York City’s waterfronts are an often underappreciated gem in the landscape of our natural beauty, but thanks to Mayor Adams’ plan to expand waterfront access, more New Yorkers than ever can finally enjoy the full splendor of our waterfronts and fully appreciate why we must protect them,” said Council Member Jim Gennaro.
“New York City’s waterfront is a treasure that deserves to be protected. The 33rd Council District is excited to celebrate our 520 miles of waterfront at the Naval Cemetery Landscape,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler.
DCP’s celebration of the city’s 520-mile-long shoreline began in 2017. Taking place on the fifth month and 20th day – 5/20 – this year’s programs focus on accessibility to the waterfront for New Yorkers, highlighting its network of public parks and open spaces that provide opportunities to get directly to the water’s edge, put a boat in the water, or learn more about the critical ecological and resiliency roles that the shoreline plays in our everyday lives.
New York City’s waterways represent 156 square miles of public open space (more than 100 Central Parks), and this number is only growing as efforts to expand waterfront open space flourish across the city. Many new waterfront parks and open spaces are the product of years of hard work and coordination by community organizations, members of the public, and City and State agencies.
DCP has coordinated these events with our sister agencies and community partners, including DOT, the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Naval Cemetery Landscape, the Harlem River Working Group, Randall’s Island Park Alliance, and Socrates Sculpture Park.
“For two decades, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative has been advocating for completion of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway and for improved public access to Brooklyn’s waterfront from Greenpoint to East New York. Over that time, more greenways have been completed across NYC to allow more New Yorkers to enjoy and recreate along our city’s coastline, and there is still more to be done to create more waterfront access. We are delighted to celebrate NYC 520 with events at the Naval Cemetery Landscape, a public space near Brooklyn’s waterfront that BGI operates completely through donations from our philanthropic supporters,” said Hunter Armstrong, Executive Director of Brooklyn Greenway Initiative.
“Mary Mattingly’s Ebb of a Spring Tide offers timely and important reflections on the history and future of the Park’s position along the East River,” explained Kaitlin Garcia-Maestas, Curator and Director of Exhibitions of Socrates Sculpture Park. “The artist’s commitment to local ecologies, collective resourcefulness, and site-responsive interventions resonates with many of our programmatic goals. Blurring boundaries between architecture and sculpture, this project will provide unique points of entry for a wide range of visitors. I’m excited to witness these living sculptures grow and evolve over the summer, while also acting as a collaborative platform for community workshops, music, and performance.”
“Randall’s Island Park hosts more than 4.5 miles of the city’s 520 total miles of shoreline, and all in the heart of New York City. Recreational opportunities abound along the island’s 10 miles of bike and pedestrian pathways, picnic areas, restored wetlands, and shorelines. Park visitors can experience a uniquely accessible waterfront where the Long Island Sound and Hudson River estuaries first converge. The Randall’s Island Park Alliance, the dedicated steward for the park in partnership with NYC Parks, is excited to share our work of improving water quality, providing equitable shoreline access, and engaging learners of all ages in programming, monitoring and stewarding this incredible resource,” said Chris Girgenti, Director of Environmental Programs at the Randall’s Island Park Alliance.
“The Harlem River Working Group is excited to partner with NYC Department of Planning’s NYC 520 events highlighting New York City’s 520 Miles of Waterfront. Communities in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan have been advocating for access to their waterfronts for decades, and the announcement by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez about the city’s commitment to plan for a Bronx Harlem River Greenway from Randall’s Island to Van Cortlandt Park addresses our communities call for environmental justice. Taking community members, elected officials and city agencies on tours of the Harlem River Waterfront allows us the opportunity to envision a better future for the Bronx and New York City as a whole,” said Chauncy Young, Coordinator of Harlem River Working Group.
The events set for May 20 this year are:
Randall’s Island Shoreline Tour, 10 am to 12 pm – Join the Randall’s Island Park Alliance and DCP for an interactive tour along part of the island’s 4.5 miles of coastline. The tour will explore plans to improve coastal resiliency, public access, and recreation along the Harlem River and finish in the restored Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh. Participants will also be able to gather water quality samples, an important tool for informing the public about when and where it is safe to enjoy the city’s waterways. RSVP is required.
Ebb of a Spring Tide Opening at Socrates Sculpture Park, 12 to 2 pm– Celebrate the opening of Mary Mattingly’s new sculptural work, Ebb of a Spring Tide, at Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria. On view from May 20 to Sept. 10, this piece explores our relationship to coastal ecosystems and the shifting nature of rivers and water lines. While there will be music and culinary offerings throughout the afternoon, stop by DCP’s table from 12 to 2 pm to learn about the City’s 520 miles of waterfront, take part in a visioning activity on the future of the shoreline, and pick up a free NYC Waterfront dry bag!
Bronx Harlem River Greenway Tour, 1 to 3 pm – Join DCP, DOT, and the Harlem River Working Group for a walking tour of sections of the current and future Harlem River Greenway. The tour will offer great views of the High Bridge, the Harlem River Valley, and Roberto Clemente State Park. It will also illustrate the challenges and opportunities in developing a continuous greenway here. RSVP is required.
Naval Cemetery Landscape Events – Visit the Naval Cemetery Landscape, built and maintained by Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, and located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Start a self-guided tour to learn about the native meadow, the site’s history, and more. While there, visit Furnishing Utopia’s “Public Access” exhibit. On view from May 18-25, it includes outdoor functional pieces exploring ways in which design can inspire communal acts of sharing and engagement. And young environmentalists can enjoy the nature-themed Story Time with the Brooklyn Public Library on May 20 at 10:30 am.
New Yorkers are also encouraged to check out these other community events hosted by friends of DCP on May 20:
- NYC H2O Conference House Park Cleanup on Staten Island – 10 am to 12 pm
- NYC H2O Living Breakwaters Shorewalk on Staten Island – 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm
- Kayaking at Hallet’s Cove with LIC Community Boathouse and Socrates Sculpture Park – 12 pm to 5 pm
To stay in the loop about these events for 520, as well as other opportunities to learn about and help plan for New York City’s shoreline, follow @NYCWaterfront on Instagram, and @NYCPlanning on Twitter and Instagram.
Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) plans for the strategic growth and development of the City through ground-up planning with communities, the development of land use policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide, and its contribution to the preparation of the City’s 10-year Capital Strategy. DCP promotes housing production and affordability, fosters economic development and coordinated investments in infrastructure and services, and supports resilient, sustainable communities across the five boroughs for a more equitable New York City.
In addition, DCP supports the City Planning Commission in its annual review of approximately 450 land use applications for a variety of discretionary approvals. The Department also assists both government agencies and the public by advising on strategic and capital planning and providing policy analysis, technical assistance and data relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, zoning, urban design, waterfront areas and public open space.
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