UNUSUAL – Lightness rediscovered? An aerial park of nearly one hectare resting on 132 concrete tulips, above the Hudson River, was inaugurated this Friday, May 21 in New York, as the symbol of a city that is reborn after a pandemic that has it. deeply marked.

“Little Island”, accessible free of charge by two pedestrian bridges, was built alongside the site where the White Star shipping company Pier 54 once stood, where 705 survivors of the Titanic sank in April 1912 landed.

Billionaire gift

Cost of this artificial island, around $ 260 million, mostly funded by the foundation of entrepreneur Barry Diller and his wife, designer Diane von Furstenberg. The billionaire told the New York Times that it would bear the costs of maintaining the park during the first 20 years. In total, its contribution could thus reach 380 million dollars, he estimated, unprecedented in New York for a private donation to a public garden.

“Little Island” was almost never completed, crippled by an endless series of legal remedies, before New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo managed to reach an agreement between the parties in 2017.

350 different flower species

Built at different heights, from 5 to 18 meters, to create relief, the tulips, each weighing 68 tons, were filled with earth, like giant flowerpots. Flowers of over 350 different species, shrubs and trees have been installed on the site. At water level, we can still see the remains of the old wooden pillars of quay 54, preserved to preserve the underwater habitat.

The project, located between 13th and 14th Street, also includes an amphitheater with nearly 700 seats. It is part of the Hudson River Park, a project to develop the Hudson docks between 59th Street and Battery Park City, in the far south of Manhattan.

“I am incredibly happy to be here and to have survived the pandemic”, reacted one of the first visitors to the place, Barbara Kenner, who lost her job as personnel manager during the health crisis, which made more than 30,000 dead in New York. “We are celebrating what New York is here. “The landscape designer, Signe Nielsen, who designed the surface of Little Island, wanted visitors to“ leave the city, the traffic, enter a space and be surprised, ”she explained to our colleagues from AFP. “I hope they leave calmer and happier than they came in.”

“It’s a really nice place to cut a little bit with the city, especially here on the southern tip of Manhattan, where we don’t have a lot of green space,” said Lauren Moon Fraser, lying on the floor. the lawn with her baby. Above the water, the New York summer of 2021 takes on another dimension for residents.

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