Eyes on the Riverbanks in Northern Manhattan

Eyes on the Riverbanks in Northern Manhattan

Yes, this is Manhattan. A view from the kayak of Inwood Hill and the Palisades.
Yes, this is Manhattan. The view north on the Hudson, Inwood Hill at right and the Palisades at left. (AN/Stoelker)

As AN reported back in February, things are looking up for the Parks Department’s Lighthouse Link project that will revamp the riverfront from the George Washington Bridge to the Dyckman Marina, named for the Little Red Lighthouse beneath the bridge. The project will be capped with riverside restaurant at Dyckman called La Marina with spectacular views overlooking the New Jersey Palisades. The all-season pavilion designed by architect Andrew Franz appears close to completion and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) is still hammering away at a plan that could very well provide public access to the river for launching kayaks and the mooring for historic tall ships.  Roland Lewis, president  of MWA,  used a theater term to describe the access to the water. “It’s like breaking down the fourth wall,” he said. Indeed, as a recent kayak trip through the area revealed a view from the water drastically alters ones perseption of the city.

The new La Marina riverfront cafe in Inwood, Manhattan is exected to open by July.

Thursday, a Parks spokesperson confirmed that the restaurant should be open at some point this summer, after the concessionaire, the Manhattan River Group, finalizes permits. reports that Parks cut the seating capacity in half from 1000 to 500. No doubt the department took note of neighborhood tensions brewing as the bawdy bar scene to east continues to bring bass-thumping car traffic to a crawl.

Work on the Lighthouse Link is set to begin late June or July. But the opening of the marina, which would stretch from the bridge to Dyckman, has yet to be determined. As part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Waterfront Action Agenda, the project is supposed to replace a floating dock for public access to the water.

Eco Dock designed buy Huntley Gill, Guardia Architects for Bay Ridge. (Courtesy MWA)

Lewis said the MWA has been working with Parks, Council Member Robert Jackson, and Borough President Scott Stringer to secure funding for an Eco Dock. The group was already successful in getting a Community Eco Dock  to be located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Eco Docks are able to accommodate kayaks or canoes with a floating platform and historic tall ships with a gangplank that connect to the pier. The Brooklyn dock cost $700,000 and the Inwood pier is expected to cost $500,000 to $800,000.

The view south includes the Cloisters at left and the George Washington, and new cafe in foreground.

If it happens, it would be a revelation for many New Yorkers. From the water, a lively riverbank community unfolds, one totally obscured from from the Henry Hudson Parkway and Amtrak train tracks that run nearby. Fishers cast lines beside sunbathers sprawled out on giant rocks. Like “eyes on the street” access to the water could provide “eyes on the banks.” The Lighthouse Link will certainly enliven the land, Lewis hopes that the dock and marina will do the same for the water. “It’s a new and very exciting frontier for the city,” he said. “It’ll bring a lot of activity to what was once a forlorn and underutilized area.”

For those who can’t wait for public access to the water, the Inwood Canoe Club, a private club, holds a paddling program for the public each Sunday from 10AM to Noon through Labor Day.