Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
One of the city’s main recreation hubs, the Park has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, in large part through the vision and support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in keeping with his historic citywide commitment to the preservation of open spaces and waterfront restoration and development. In 1992, the Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA) (formerly the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation) was established to revive the park, and began working alongside the City of New York and the Department of Parks & Recreation to develop sports and recreational facilities, maintain the Park and restore its natural environment. In 1999, RIPA, the City and the local community worked together to generate a Management, Restoration & Development Plan for the Park, and in the years since this plan has been largely realized. The transformation began in 2005 with Icahn Stadium, an IAAF-certified track & field facility, which was followed by a renovated golf center, nine acres of restored wetlands, a 20-court tennis center, more than 60 playing fields and miles of waterfront bike and pedestrian pathways. Many of these facilities have utilized parkland reclaimed from institutional use and/or restored from a degraded, inaccessible state. RIPA works to coordinate local stewardship of the refurbished Park through volunteer efforts, and hosts free summer and year-round sports and environmental programs to make the most of the new facilities, restored natural areas, waterfront pathways and green, open fields. In the meantime, the Park has hosted major events including Lollapalooza, the Vans Warped Tour, Cirque du Soleil and the Electric Zoo; in spring 2012, the Island will be home to the first North American installation of the international Frieze Art Fair.
Randall’s Island Park has sustained a long and colorful history, leading to the comprehensive sports and recreational facility which today welcomes New Yorkers and other visitors to its shores. The Island’s 480 acres once comprised two separate islands, Randall’s and Wards, which for hundreds of years were used not as a public park but as a location for a range of public facilities including a boys’ home, a hospital, and a home for civil war veterans. The islands were first designated for recreational use by Robert Moses, and the park was opened in 1936 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, along with the new Triborough Bridge. In subsequent years, the Little Hell Gate Channel and its adjacent wetlands were filled by debris from construction projects in Manhattan, joining the acreage into a single island. Generations of New Yorkers enjoyed the park, but by the 1980s it had fallen into serious disrepair. The new Randall’s Island brings back to New York City the glory of a park that once hosted a dream roster of national greats including Duke Ellington, Jesse Owens, Pelé and Jimi Hendrix.
- New York
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