By Julie Shapiro
The new two-block park runs along the East River from Maiden Lane to Wall Street and features a dog run, seating surrounded by lush plantings and steps leading down to the water, all connected by a stone path open to the sky.
"I love it," said Julie Joseph, 50, a nonprofit worker who relaxed on a bench overlooking the East River during her lunch break on Monday. "I don't want to go back to my office."
The esplanade offers sweeping views of the East River, the South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge. A salty breeze blew off the water Monday afternoon, cooling even the sunniest sections of the promenade.
Some of the happiest users of the new park were C'mere and C'mon, Jack Russell terrier sisters who frolicked in the new 4,300-square-foot oval dog run. They splashed in the fountain, darted in and out of the oversized doghouse and hid behind large sculptures of a squirrel and a dog bone.
"It's the best dog run in lower Manhattan," said Patrick Fox, 51, a Financial District resident and owner of the dogs. "I like it because they can chase each other around the obstacles. It's not just concrete."
On a quieter set of benches nearby, Mellissa Pagan, 28, a Staten Island resident, read a magazine. She said it was hard to believe that she was just a few steps from Wall Street.
"It's really nice," she said. "The smell of the ocean, the greenery, the peacefulness."
The Economic Development Corp., which built the park, opened it quietly Monday morning and declined to comment pending an official announcement.
This is just the first section of the larger $167 million East River Waterfront project, designed by SHoP Architects, which will create a landscaped walkway and bike path from the Battery Maritime Building all the way up to Pier 35, just north of the Manhattan Bridge.
The next piece of the project to open will be the new two-level Pier 15, which could be ready later this year.