Here’s our guide to what’s new in New York City parks, coming to a green space near year over the next year and change. We break down what to look for in spots including Prospect Park’s new Lakeside complex, expanded piers in Brooklyn Bridge Park, new public space on Governors Island and more.
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As part of a vast project to restore the land along the Bronx River, this 13-acre park opened bigger and better in May after $18 million worth of upgrades. Nestled between the water and the Sheridan Expressway, Starlight was an amusement park from 1918 to 1932, complete with a roller coaster and a midway. The new incarnation features a synthetic-turf ball field, a picnic area, floating docks and basketball courts, plus a verdant three-quarter-mile loop for cyclists and pedestrians. A push to build a bridge connecting the park to the Bronx River Greenway has stalled, but stay tuned for more revamping down the line.
We have high hopes for this temporary locale, which is taking root on a disused lot in the shadow of the former Domino Sugar Factory. Until redevelopment begins (provisionally, next year), the site will include both grass and AstroTurf lawns; an alfresco library cloistered within plant walls; a modular urban garden by North Brooklyn Farms that will sell fresh produce (second Saturday of every month 10am–3pm); and a mountain-bike course that will offer on-site rentals from Ride Brooklyn ($10/hr). Later this summer, expect movie screenings, gardening workshops, yoga classes and more. twitter.com/bbbyrdd, brooklynbikepark.org
The southeast tip of this venerable Brooklyn park is getting a massive makeover, and it’s looking to the past for inspiration. Phase one of the $74 million project, set to be finished in December, entails a historic re-creation of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s original design, including the Music Island and the granite-lined Esplanade, a formal promenade intended for Kings County residents to enjoy open-air concerts held on the lake’s islet. On track for completion in December is a 30,000-square-foot sustainable facility to replace the defunct Wollman Rink; the new complex will include two skating rinks—which will be used for ice-skating, roller-skating and as a water playground, depending on the season—expanding the space from a winter wonderland to a year-round exercise haven. prospectpark.org
The newest additions to this riverside expanse will fully connect the components of the 14-mile Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, which links Greenpoint to Sunset Park via one long car-free, Instagram-friendly artery. On Pier 3–4 Upland, you’ll be able to see stunning views of the New York Harbor from a shaded granite terrace built from salvaged materials, while large grassy areas delineated by lush flower beds will offer prime panoramas of Lady Liberty and the skyline. If you’re an adrenaline junkie rather than a view-seeker, get ready for the five-acre Pier 2, replete with an in-line skating rink and basketball, bocce and handball courts, in addition to a floating dock for kayaking that’s already open. Pier 3–4 Upland • Pier 2; enter via Pier 1, Old Fulton St at Furman St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (brooklynbridgepark.org)
This military outpost turned staycation destination is about to get even better. The isle is adding 34 new acres of public space, including a Play Lawn (featuring two ball fields with views of the Statue of Liberty), Liggett Terrace (a plaza with public art and movable seats) and Hammock Grove (a haven shaded by 1,500 trees, featuring 50 hammocks available for your lounging pleasure). Debris from the island’s demolition projects is being recycled to create rolling terrain. Alas, since the new extension isn’t opening until after the island’s regular season ends in September, the reclining public won’t get a chance to test out the amenities until next spring. govisland.com
Gotham’s favorite elevated green space is in its third and final stage of development, but don’t expect the kind of modern design and meticulous landscaping that’s found on the rest of the High Line. The upcoming U-shaped, half-mile-long section seeks to reconnect with its industrial-railroad past—instead of manicured blossoms, picture self-seeding wildflowers growing over original train tracks. Plus, there will be picnic tables, added seating and a sunken playground for kids. Until it opens next year, you can take a free tour of the unfinished space—and see Carol Bove’s alfresco sculpture exhibit, “Caterpillar”—with Friends of the High Line through May 2014 (reserve at thehighline.org/about/public-art/bove). thehighline.org