East River Park, also called John V. Lindsay East River Park, is 57.5-acre (20 ha) public park located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, part of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The park stretches along the East River from Montgomery Street up to 12th Street on the east side of the FDR Drive. The amphitheater, built in 1941 just south of Grand Street, has been reconstructed and is often used for public performances. The park includes football, baseball, and soccer fields; tennis, basketball, and handball courts; a running track; and bike paths, including the East River Greenway. Fishing is another popular activity. The park is bisected by the Williamsburg Bridge.
Conceived in the early 1930s by Robert Moses, East River Park opened on July 27, 1939. Prior to this time, the East River waterfront had been an active shipping yard and later became home to many of the city's poorest immigrants. The park became the largest open green space on the Lower East Side. Since that time, the park has been encroached upon by various developments such as the widening of the FDR Drive and the extension of South Street. Still, the park provides a respite for residents of the Lower East Side, particularly in summer months when there are refreshing breezes from the river.
In 1998, through an agreement with the New York City Parks Department, the Lower East Side Ecology Center became the steward of the park. For 20 years, this local environmental non-profit has been the caretaker of the park and has had its offices and education center inside the Fire Boat House, located in the park near the Williamsburg Bridge. Each year the Ecology Center leads thousands of volunteers in up-keeping the park, tending to garden beds, and enhancing the park by planting native plants and bulbs.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the city rebuilt the amphitheater, which had fallen into disrepair. A new soccer field was also built at this time. Companies throughout the U.S. donated materials for the reconstruction and the project was finished in record time. The project was dedicated to those children who lost parents in the attacks. In December 2001, East River Park was renamed after former New York City Mayor John Lindsay.
In 2008 the City Parks Foundation brought free music, dance, and theater arts programming to the amphitheater in an effort to further engage the surrounding communities in the revitalization of the park. The first performance held was a music concert by Fiery Furnaces which drew an audience of 1,500. KRS-One and Willie Colón also performed in 2008, drawing crowds upward of 3,000 people.
The promenade along the East River opened in 2010; the Williamsburg Bridge is in the background
The walkway in the park, which runs along the FDR Drive, is being resurfaced as part of a general overhaul of the park; this section is still to be worked on.
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