From the New York shoreline, the artificial island floating above the Hudson River looks like it’s being supported by stilted golf tees planted in the water. These concrete pilings are actually referred to as tulips, and there are 132 of them raising the structure—known as Little Island—above the water.
The island is built on the remnants of Pier 54, just west of Manhattan, which Hurricane Sandy destroyed in 2012. To restore the area, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg of the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation partnered with the Hudson River Park Trust to create a unique, public space for New York.
Diller and von Furstenberg first floated the idea for the artificial island in 2013 with construction finishing in May 2021. The island cost $260 million to build and features a 687-seat amphitheater, a 2.4 acre public park with walking trails, a lawn area known as the Glade, a playground, and stunning sunset views of the Hudson.
British architect Thomas Heatherwick designed the island in partnership with global engineering firm Arup and landscape architects MNLA. Admission to the island is free, with the intention of giving people a sense of escape from Manhattan. The island is accessible by two gangplank-style bridges.
Little Island has been open to the public for just under a year. Throughout last summer, the island offered free performances by local artists in the amphitheater and Glade, including music, dance, poetry, and rhythm. Diller and von Furstenberg have pledged an additional $120 million to maintain the park and keep these programs running for the next 20 years.
If you’re headed to New York this summer and looking for something to do, it’s a great place to catch a free performance, have a picnic, or just lounge on a sunny afternoon.