By Nora Quintanilla
New York, May 21 (EFE).- The kind of crowds rarely seen since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic returned to New York on Friday with the long-awaited opening of Little Island, a park on stilts in the Hudson River funded largely by media mogul Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diana von Furstenberg.
Hundreds of New Yorkers flocked to the Big Apple’s newest public park, which consists of 132 concrete “tulips” supported by cement piles sunk among the wooden piles that remained after Superstorm Sandy destroyed historic Pier 54 in 2012.
The tulips are covered with lawns and more than 350 species of flowers, trees and shrubs.
Little Island, technically an expansion of the existing Hudson River Park, is intended as a “gift to New York” that offers residents and visitors “access to a combination of nature and art,” executive coordinator Jessie Long told Efe.
The space, created with $260 million from the Diller-Von Furstenberg Foundation, includes a 687-seat amphitheater to serve as a venue for free performances to begin next month and an array of vantage points with breathtaking views of the city and the river.
Diller, former CEO of 20th Century Fox, and Von Furstenberg, launched the Little Island project in 2014 with the aim of revitalizing the area around the pier where survivors of the Titanic disembarked in 1912.
Soon after the announcement, the non-profit City Club of New York filed lawsuits objecting to the plan. The suits were subsequently revealed to have been financed by billionaire developer Douglas Durst.
Diller threw in the towel in September 2017 as the protracted litigation drove up the costs of the initiative. But New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped in to resolve the impasse and the project resumed.
“I hope Little Island will serve as a whimsical oasis for everyone who visits,” Diller said Friday in a statement. “A place to wander around and be happily surprised at every turn, to lounge and graze the landscape, and to be entertained, educated and stimulated by our programming.”
Design was entrusted to British architect Thomas Heatherwick, best known for the Vessel, a free-standing spiraling staircase at the Hudson Yards development, north of Little Island.
The Vessel was closed in January after a third person committed suicide by jumping from the top of the 150-ft (47.5 m)-tall structure. EFE