East River Esplanade (67th to 125th)
GOOD FOR: Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:East 120th Street and Paladino Avenue, Manhattan, NY
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Jefferson Park (114th Street); Carl Schurz Park (90th Street)
Water/Snacks: Water fountains and vendors in parks

USGS Brooklyn; USGS Central Park

A hike along the East River Esplanade is a must-do to fully appreciate the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway project.

Cast a line for flounder, bluefish, and striped bass along the East River Esplanade.
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

The development of Manhattan’s 508-mile shoreline—known as the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway project—has been among the most important initiatives intended to transform the city into an environment that not only invites, but encourages, outdoor activities. The project has taken place concurrent with the renovation and reinvention of other sites around New York—such as empty lots turned into outdoor art museums (Trip 42) and abandoned docks turned into parks exposing the visitor to forgotten history (Trip 43).

A journey along the East River Esplanade provides one of numerous answers to the oft-asked question, What is there to do outdoors in the city? Entering the paved Esplanade at 120th Street, head south along the East River. Directly ahead, you will see the endpoint of your walk 53 blocks south (approximately 3 miles) at Carl Schurz Park (Trip 16), where Manhattan juts out farther east. In the center of the river you will also see Mill Rock, an uninhabited 3.9-acre island that, along with neighboring Flood Rock, once made the area a notoriously treacherous passage for vessels heading northeast out of New York Harbor. In 1885 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers destroyed Flood Rock with 500,000 pounds of explosives. The concussion from the blast was felt as far away as Princeton, New Jersey.

Today this area of the East River presents a placid vista and a lovely panorama of the Queens–Brooklyn skyline. You can walk or bike along the esplanade, or come prepared to join the many anglers fishing for flounder, bluefish, and striped bass.

Remember: At 114th Street you will pass Thomas Jefferson Park, yet another triumphant example of a city park recently rescued from decline. It features a popular recreation center and pool.

Plan B:

Carl Schurz Park (Trip 16), at the end of this hike, is a great spot to picnic, play Frisbee, visit a large playground, and watch the boats go by.


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