Manhattan is brilliant at using every bit of space available and making the best of its natural assets. No beach? No sweat. Just turn the whole Hudson River waterfront into an outdoor paradise for urban dwellers.
The West Side Highway runs almost the entire length of the western side of Manhattan, hugging the shore of the mighty Hudson River. On the whole, it's godawful ugly, with 6-8 lanes of traffic and lights and confusing turns. For decades, the piers and waterfront were left to rot. But in 1998, the then Mayor Giuliani, with the help of the New York Governor, decided to create the Hudson River Park, the biggest green undertaking since the creation of Central Park. It consists of 550 acres of waterfront running from 59th street in midtown, down to Battery Park, and incorporates basketball courts, tennis courts, a dedicated bike track, jogging track, green spaces, urban art, cafes, playgrounds and even a real sand volleyball area! All the piers are being renovated, the river is being opened to kayaking and sailing, the views to Jersey are phenomenal and Manhattan-ites are flocking to it.
I went for a lovely walk along the West Village/ Tribeca section last weekend. Here's a snapshot of a summer weekend beside the Hudson.