Thousands of NYers soak up sun at Little Island park

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Look out Central Park, a hot new urban oasis just made its star turn in the Big Apple.

Picturesque Little Island park, which appears like a mirage floating above the Hudson River, opened to the public Friday, and quickly attracted a throng of pandemic-weary New Yorkers who came to shed their face masks — and much of their clothes.

Bikini-clad sunbathers sprawled out on the grassy knolls of the unique, $250 million, 2.4-acre park, as yoga-lovers practiced downward-facing dogs and painters made art inspired by the lush foliage.

Others took in the majestic views from the futuristic-looking green space, which is suspended over the water on concrete piles rising up from the Hudson River just off Manhattan’s West 14th Street.

The opening seemed to come at the perfect time weather-wise, as the mercury is forecasted to hit a high of 89 and 90 degrees in the city on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

“It’s incredible,” said Erika Larson, 26, of Brooklyn. “It’s really great to see people interacting with each other in a natural space again.”

A view of the Little Island park’s structural design of rising up from the Hudson River.
A view of the Little Island park’s structural design of rising up from the Hudson River.
Seth Gottfried
A view of the Little Island park’s structural design of rising up from the Hudson River.
A view of the Little Island park’s structural design of rising up from the Hudson River.
Robert Miller
New Yorkers check out a Glade area in Little Island park.
New Yorkers check out a Glade area in Little Island park.
Seth Gottfried
Little Island park attracted thousands of visitors by 2 p.m., according to a park representative.
Little Island park attracted thousands of visitors by 2 p.m., according to a park representative.
Robert Miller

Larson, while sitting in the park’s nearly 700-seat amphitheater facing the Hudson, said, “People really needed this and you can tell just by how happy everyone is. It feels really peaceful.”

Megan Grady, 23, of Hell’s Kitchen went mask-less as she soaked up the sun with thoughts of the coronavirus pandemic far from her mind.

“I can breathe! I can show my face,” Grady, who has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, gushed. “Today is the first time I can honestly say that the pandemic is not floating around my head.”

New Yorkers check out a Glade area in Little Island park.
New Yorkers check out a Glade area in Little Island park.
Seth Gottfried
New Yorkers relax under the sun in the green space playground of Little Island park.
New Yorkers relax under the sun in the green space playground of Little Island park.
Robert Miller
New Yorkers relax under the sun in the green space playground of Little Island park.
New Yorkers relax under the sun in the green space playground of Little Island park.
Robert Miller
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
Seth Gottfried

She explained, “This is what springtime in New York felt like two years ago and I couldn’t be happier to have that back today.”

Laurence Rassin, a 55-year-old Manhattan artist, took his easel to the park to paint.

“It’s so serene,” Rassin said. “The lushness of the grass, the whole floating island concept — it’s exhilarating.”

West Village resident Julia Palomba, 29, laid out on the lawn and worked from her laptop.

A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
Seth Gottfried
Visitors look onto the Hudson River in Little Island park.
Visitors look onto the Hudson River in Little Island park.
Seth Gottfried
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
Seth Gottfried
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
Robert Miller
New Yorkers sit around The Amph, a 700-seat waterfront amphitheater at Little Island.
New Yorkers sit around The Amph, a 700-seat waterfront amphitheater at Little Island.
Seth Gottfried

“It sure beats working in my stifling apartment,” the content producer said, noting, “The grass is beautiful, the flowers are really nice, there are winding pathways, everything is brand new.”

By 2 p.m., more than 5,000 people had visited the park, a rep said.

Free timed entry reservations are currently required for Little Island between 12 pm and 8 pm. The park is open from 6 am to 1 am, so reservations are not required before 12 pm or after 8 pm, depending on capacity.

A New Yorker practices yoga in Little Island park.
A New Yorker practices yoga in Little Island park.
Robert Miller
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
Seth Gottfried
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
Seth Gottfried
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
A view during the opening day of Little Island Park on W 13th St and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
Seth Gottfried

All reservations for the rest of May have been sold out.

Planned in partnership with the Hudson River Park Trust, Little Island was funded primarily through media magnate Barry Diller and the Diller-Von Furstenberg Family Foundation.

The park is a free public green space that’s part of Hudson River Park.

New Yorkers relax under the sun in the green space playground of Little Island park.
New Yorkers relax under the sun in the green space playground of Little Island park.
Seth Gottfried
A view of the Little Island park's structural design of rising up from the Hudson River.
A view of the Little Island park’s structural design of rising up from the Hudson River.
Seth Gottfried
New Yorkers relax under the sun in the green space playground of Little Island park.
New Yorkers relax under the sun in the green space playground of Little Island park.
Andrew Battifarano

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