Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 welcomes 500,000th kayaker through ongoing free boating programming

Paddling the kayak
Photo via Getty Images

The Downtown Boathouse recently welcomed its 500,000th kayaker from Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 Boathouse.

Like the 499,999 kayakers before her, the 500,000th kayaker was able to paddle her adventure on the river for free thanks to the Downtown Boathouse and its partnership with Hudson River Park. 

“On behalf of the Hudson River Park Trust, we would like to extend our congratulations to the Downtown Boathouse for introducing half a million kayakers to the Hudson River and New York’s coastal waters,” said Noreen Doyle, President and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust. “Together with our other boating partners, the Downtown Boathouse plays a crucial role in extending our mission of making the Hudson River accessible, and in fostering an environmental interest in our diverse river ecosystem.” 

Established in 1994, the Downtown Boathouse was created with the mission to encourage safe public use of New York City’s harbor waters and providing residents with increased recreational opportunities. The Downtown Boathouse launched its signature free public programming for 100 members of the public in 1995 on Pier 26 when the pier was still owned by the NYS Department of Transportation. Later, programming was expanded for more kayakers to enjoy when the Hudson River Park Trust began redeveloping Pier 26 for public park use, and the Downtown Boathouse continued operations from Piers 40 and 96. The Downtown Boathouse was able to return to Pier 26 in 2014 to a newly built boathouse.

Since its opening, the boathouse has been committed to operating an all-volunteer program, allowing it to bring programming to New Yorkers free of charge. The no-fee programming structure is facilitated by the Hudson River Park Trust building and maintaining the Pier 26 boathouse and dock. Downtown Boathouse also operates programs from the 72 St. boat launch and Governors Island.  

Hudson River Park is home to four boathouses on Pier 26, Pier 66, Pier 84 and Pier 96. With these boathouses and an additional space at Pier 40, the park is able to host kayaking, outboard canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, kayak polo, rowing, and boat-building, encouraging environmental stewardship and educating visitors about the importance of New York’s ecological habitats.

“The Downtown Boathouse tries to enable as many people to go kayaking on New York Harbor as our resources allow, and as is safe to do so,” according to Graeme Birchall, President of the Downtown Boathouse. “The Downtown Boathouse is a participant in the LOCAL OUTDOOR recreation movement. In an increasingly urbanized world, we believe that the residents of densely populated cities need to be able to safely and affordably access their local outdoors, which for New York City is New York Harbor,”

The Downtown Boathouse is located at Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 in Lower Manhattan.