Little Island in the Hudson River makes big impressions on New Yorkers

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Little Island opened to the public this weekend.
Photo by Dean Moses

New Yorkers are reacting with pride over their newest little sanctuary in the sun.

Little Island is a 2.4 acre patch of paradise and can be found bobbing above the Hudson River on West 14th Street. Created about seven years ago with the help of a hefty $260 million donation from media mogul Barry Diller, this newest attraction opened to the public on Friday for free entry, but how exactly do residents feel about this new, multimillion-dollar park?

Thomas Melendez, Elizabeth Carrasco, and Gabriella and Di’Angelo Paredes visited Little Island for the first time on Sunday. Photo by Dean Moses

Thomas Melendez, Elizabeth Carrasco, and Gabriella and Di’Angelo Paredes expressed their thorough satisfaction with the new green space as a much-needed relief from the worries of the pandemic. 

Crystal Smith had a blast blowing bubbles with her son on Little Island. Photo by Dean Moses

“It’s beautiful. With the pandemic we wanted to come outside and have nice ventilation and feel safe. The city needed something like this,” Melendez said, sharing that their youngest family members, Gabriella and Di’Angelo, were able to roll around the grass and enjoy the fresh open air.

Visitors climbed atop the spiraling steps to gain a greater vantage point of the Hudson River. Photo by Dean Moses

The faint murmur of individuals socializing accompanies the soft waves and rustle of the breeze against the trees and plants, making Little Island a meditative spot for some locals like Suncerae Fredericks and Timicka Davis. 

For two days in a row Fredericks and Davis drove from Washington Heights in the early hours of the morning to enjoy a few hours of serenity. 

The wooden amphitheater is the perfect spot to sit and enjoy waterfront view. Photo by Dean Moses

“It is relaxing, it’s very beautiful from the trees, the plants, down to the wood and the planks and how they used different tones,” Fredericks said, patting a wooden bench within the 687-seat amphitheater. 

Looking out into the Hudson River, Fredericks smiled, adding “I love sitting and just looking out into the water. We’ve sat here for 30 mins.” 

The Freedom Tower is one of the many landmark sites to behold. Photo by Dean Moses

The only downside she has faced this weekend is the influx of joggers rushing up the steps and around the winding paths, panting heavily. She believes that Little Island is a place of respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, and joggers trample over that calming atmosphere. 

Children are able to run and roll around in the grass. Photo by Dean Moses

Joggers, however, feel differently. Gian Galang says that Little Island is the ideal destination point for his weekend jog with his wife as they venture from the Upper East Side. 

“I love it here. I think projects like this and the High Line and Central Park are what makes New York great. That contrast between the dense city and just a little open air. The little pockets of contrast and open air provide a great juxtaposition to the city,” Galang said.

There are several interactive stations for children to enjoy, such as creating music with chimes. Photo by Dean Moses

Galang’s father-in-law, Kenny Fribd, wholeheartedly agrees, sharing that he rode his bike from New Jersey to join the couple as they explored Little Island. 

“I think it’s inspiring. Not only for what it shows and what is, but what it will mean for the future of the city. I think that the reality that COVID and everybody leaving the city during the pandemic, wondering will New York return, this is the kind of thing that will bring people back because the garden will be here along with the metropolis,” Fribd said. 

Open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. each day, this floating location has its foot traffic regulated past noon, so visitors between the afternoon and evening must book a timed entry reservation throughout that period of the day. 


Friends and families sat upon the grass to soak in the sun. Photo by Dean Moses
Little Island is the ideal selfie location. Photo by Dean Moses