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Double-Decker Pier 15 Opens on East River Waterfront in Financial District

By Julie Shapiro | December 20, 2011 7:42am
Looking back toward the Financial District from the tip of Pier 15.
Looking back toward the Financial District from the tip of Pier 15.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The new Pier 15 opened Monday, giving the public a double-decker perch high above the East River with sweeping views of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan.

The 50,000-square-foot pier, designed by SHoP Architects, features open lawns, planting beds, wooden benches and sets of steps leading down to the water.

The second story of the pier provides a bright red roof for the lower level and shelters two glass pavilions, which will eventually host a cafe and a maritime educational space.

The new pier, at John and South streets, is part of the city's $167 million East River Waterfront project. The first section of the park opened last June, just south of Pier 15.

"As work continues on various sections of the East River Waterfront Esplanade, New Yorkers can now experience the unique, bi-level open space at Pier 15 in Lower Manhattan that opened today," the city's Economic Development Corporation, which built the pier, said in a statement Monday.

"We look forward to residents, workers, and visitors taking advantage of these brand-new amenities along the waterfront with a one-of-a-kind view."

From the lower level, those walking on the pier can hear waves lapping against the pier's underside and may even get splashed themselves. Those relaxing on top of the pier are on eye level with the towering masts of the historic ships docked just to the north.

"It looks great," said Kevin Cahill, 35, a Jersey City resident who works on Wall Street and checked out the pier Monday afternoon.

"They did a really good job with it."

The new Pier 15 also includes a solution to the skateboarding problem that plagued the first section of the East River Waterfront.

To stop skateboarders from having an easy ride along the metal-edged concrete benches, the city has placed L-shaped pieces of metal every few feet, an EDC spokeswoman said.

The city plans to add the metal pieces to benches the skateboarders have damaged farther south to prevent them from skating there as well, the spokeswoman said.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who raised the issue of skateboarders wearing down the park furniture at a City Council hearing in November, was pleased with the solution. 

"I am happy to hear that EDC is taking action to protect the new East River Esplanade," Chin said in a statement.

"The Financial District community waited a long time for this waterfront park and we all have to do our part to take care of it."