Long Island City's dramatic transformation into one of the most gorgeous and family-friendly neighborhoods in NYC continues with the recent opening of Hunters Point South Park. This formerly abandoned industrial area along the East River has been turned into an innovative 10-acre green space featuring a state-of-the-art playground, lush lawns, plenty of places to lounge, the East River Ferry terminal and breathtaking views of Manhattan.
Hunters Point South Park is part of an in-progress mixed-use development project that will eventually include residences (including affordable housing), retail and a new public school on 30 acres of waterfront land. While much of that will be private, this park is open to all and sits right next to Gantry Plaza State Park, yet another gem. There are paths connecting the two so you can easily hit them both in one day. Check out our photos of this stunning new green space and then make a plan to visit this must-see park.
I was in awe when I first saw Hunters Point Park South. The open layout along the waterfront affords amazing panoramic views of midtown and lower Manhattan all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge. The park is built high above the water to prevent flooding, which you'll notice when you get close to the edge and peer over. Since the park already survived Hurricane Sandy it seems to work.
The centerpiece of the park is a massive green oval with AstroTurf in the center and real grass around the perimeter. But the main attraction for kids will undoubtedly be the state-of-the-art playground—my kids loved it so much I had trouble convincing them to leave. There is lots of climbing equipment, including a web and a wall, plus swings and a separate toddler area, and yes it's all gated. I particularly loved the cool water feature, which forms a river that wraps halfway around an AstroTurf hill that kids can roll down. You'll find another sprinkler system right outside the playground, where the water gently shoots up from holes in the ground—great for little ones who don't like getting blasted in the face. There's also a tall white rod mister.
Other Hunters Point Park South attractions include an adult fitness area with a basketball court, a waterside promenade, a dog run, a High Line-like garden with native greenery sprouting from old railroad tracks, bike paths, a small beach area (formerly home to Water Taxi Beach) with sand and benches, and a 13,000-square-foot pavilion that houses restrooms, concessions and an elevated cafe. And I can't rave enough about the unobstructed views. You can take great pics with the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and One World Trade Center in the background. Also, with the exception of the steps for sitting around the central oval, there are no stairs to navigate with your stroller or exhausted legs.
The most impressive part of all? Hunters Point Park South is a true green space. Designed by Weiss/Manfredi and Thomas Balsley Associates, it is modern and sustainable with solar energy panels on the pavilion roof powering more than 50% of the park (more will be added to up the power to 100%). And this is just Phase 1 of the eventual 11-acre park. As a proud resident of Western Queens, I am happy this waterfront park is accessible to all and can't wait to see the rest.
Hunters Point Park South is located from 50th to 54th Avenues between Center Boulevard and the East River in Long Island City, Queens. Parking in the area is a challenge so leave the car at home and take the 7 train to Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue.
Find out about other stunning NYC green spaces in our Parks & Playgrounds Guide.