Riverside Park is a scenic waterfront public park in the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights neighborhoods of Manhattan, New York City. The park consists of a 4-mile (6.4 km) strip of land with a width of between 100 and 500 feet (30 and 152 m) between Hudson River / Henry Hudson Parkway and Riverside Drive.
Riverside Park was established by land conviction in 1872 and developed in conjunction with Riverside Drive. Originally located between 72nd and 125th streets, it was extended northward in the first decade of the 20th century. When the park was first laid out, access to the river was blocked by the right-of-way to the West Side Line of the New York Central Railroad.
In the 1930s, under the parks commissioner Robert Moses’ West Side improvement project, the railroad track was covered by an esplanade and a number of recreational facilities. Very few modifications were made to the park until the 1980s when it was renovated and extended southward as part of the development of Riverside South.
Riverside Park is part of Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, a pedestrian and bicycle route along Manhattan’s waterfront. The park is operated and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department of New York City, although its operations are supported by Riverside Park Conservancy. It is both listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a scenic landmark in New York City.
There is a bird sanctuary in Riverside Park between 116th and 124th Streets. New York City Audubon estimates that birdwatchers have seen more than 177 bird species in the sanctuary since the 1980s. Approximately 10 acres (4.0 ha) have been reforested and more than 3,000 individual plants have been planted in the sanctuary since 1997. More than 80 bird species have been found in the Bird Drip, a man-made water feature near 120th Street.
Riverside Park contains a number of other wildlife species. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation states that visitors to the park can see waterfowl such as Canada Geese, Mallards, and American Black Ducks; raptors such as red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, and pilgrim falcons; songbirds; raccoons; and reptiles. In addition, a wild turkey named Giuliani was first spotted in Riverside Park in 2003 and several other wild turkeys have been spotted in the park since then.
Riverside Park is classified as a community park covering 253.17 acres by the Parks Department. The primary section of Riverside Park is the gradient between Henry Hudson Parkway and Riverside Drive from 72nd Street to 125th Street, both designated as an official New York City landmark and an NRHP site. This section is 100 to 500 feet wide. The eastern boundary of the park is generally Riverside Drive, a curving avenue with a maximum grade of 1 in 27. Several apartment buildings and religious/educational institutions on Riverside Drive overlook the park. The Henry Hudson Parkway, on the park’s western border, contains numerous interchanges that are included as part of the official landmark designation.