Long Island City’s Gantry Plaza State Park winds its way down the Queens waterfront. Its award-winning design, which includes organized nurseries and native grasses, has transformed a former contemporary space into a thriving leisure area with expansive views of Manhattan. The recreation area’s 12 regions are situated along the East River, with curved walkways leading down to a court and four themed docks. The restored docks, old delivery lifts, and reinstalled gantries—all of which were once used to stack and unload rail vehicle floats and barges—reflect the city’s history as a central transportation hub. The leisure area’s four zones—Gantry Plaza, the Library, the Fields, and the Piers—offer a unique experience for visitors looking to experience a former dockyard transformed into an urban desert garden.
Things to Do
Many visitors come to Gantry Plaza to see Midtown Manhattan’s spectacular views and meander around the cleared pathways, admiring the historical treasures. A phase of the recreation area’s square hosts occasional events and shows. Furthermore, the surrounding nurseries, which feature indigenous grasses such as spartina and miscanthus and perennials such as iris and hibiscus, are worth visiting.
The recreation area has four themed docks, each addressing a different park activity. Pier 1 is the “disregarding pier,” Pier 2 is the “bistro pier,” Pier 3 is the “sunning pier,” and Pier 4 is the “fishing pier.” Bistro tables and bar stools are available on Pier 2, wooden chaise loungers are available on Pier 3, and a dishwashing station with a sink and a removal area is available on Pier 4.
Ball courts, a handcrafted deco jungle gym with a horizon view and vibrant, elastic deck, handball courts, tennis and racquetball courts, a jogging track, and green regions for relaxing and playing frisbee are all available to prepare competitors at the recreation area’s field region. A multipurpose games field with AstroTurf is also open in the field area, perfect for a game of pickup soccer, football, or lacrosse. A vast public library is currently under construction at Gantry Plaza, explicitly designed to take advantage of the recreation area’s city vista. Steps rise from the open appearance space, lined in ascending portions with perusing tables. Peruses will look up through the structure and see the sky thanks to odd-shaped windows. This room will also offer enticing nurseries and bright spots to relax with a good read when it is finished.
Best Hikes & Trails
Because Gantry Plaza State Park is a reclaimed urban modern site, there is no clear trail to follow. Regardless, the waterfront is lined with a clean and wooden path, making the recreation area a good place for walking around a vista. Other cleared ways look into the recreation area’s interior, linking the four park segments. All paths have the slightest grade and can be explored by anyone looking for a workout, a meaningful dusk stroll, or something in between.
Long Island City Community Boathouse (LICCB) and Harbor LAB, two city-based rowing groups, offer kayaking classes at Gantry Plaza State Park’s Pier 4 throughout the late spring and fall. Kayaking and pair kayaking are among the activities included in the programs. Everyone who participates in the free projects receives a life jacket, and no reservations are required. You may also launch your kayak or paddleboard from Pier 4’s floating dock and go for a float or oar on the East River. Check the tidal schedule before you go, as rowing is best during mid-tide with less momentum.
There is no apparent trail because Gantry Plaza State Park is a reclaimed urban modern site. Regardless, the waterfront is lined with a well-kept wooden path, making the recreation area an ideal location for a stroll around a scenic vista. Other cleared routes lead into the interior of the recreation area, connecting the four park segments. Anyone searching for a workout, a meaningful dusk stroll, or whatever in between can explore all of the routes, which have virtually no grade.
Where to Stay Nearby
The revival of Queens’ modern waterfront coincided with the improvement of the surrounding area. Currently, the waterfront boasts fashionable bistros, high-end cafés, and trendy inns to suit any budget. Choose between a shabby stay near MoMA PS1 (a satellite area of New York’s Museum of Modern Art), a chic stays near Midtown, or an exceptional remain directly above the scaffold in Brooklyn.
- Lic Hotel: The Lic Hotel is centrally located, with Gantry Plaza State Park, a few exhibition halls, and Midtown Manhattan all within walking distance. Choose from a complete, sovereign, lord, or twofold twin XL room, as well as a family suite, all of which come with en suite bathrooms, a vanity. A flat-screen T.V. Breakfast is provided free of charge in the hall, and a housetop viewing area allows you to take in the views of the surrounding city.
- Ravel Hotel by Wyndham: Located within a short distance from three of New York’s major airports, Ravel Hotel provides a city break with a health focus on site. All rooms and suites include free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen T.V. with a connection, a scaled-down fridge, a small bar, and a safe. A few accommodations, such as the Premier King City View Room, have a private overhang. This hotel is disability-accessible, and pets are welcome for an extra fee.
- The Box House Hotel: Located in Brooklyn’s trendy Greenpoint district, the Box House Hotel is immediate across the street from Gantry Plaza State Park, allowing you to experience the best of both worlds. In this industrial structure converted inn, choose from conventional rooms, suites, penthouses, or space style lofts. Everything about this stay is authentic, from the room decor to the fully retractable roof scene, which is excellent for hosting a gathering with its marble bar.
How to Get There
Depending on where you’re coming from, you may reach Gantry Plaza State Park by car, tram, rail, transportation, or ship, and it’s only a few minutes drives from the Long Island Expressway’s Midtown Tunnel (LIE). Westbound vehicles can exit the LIE at Exit 15 and turn right onto Van Dam Street. Then turn left along 49th Avenue to reach the recreation area, and it’s more challenging to match the recreation area from the eastward path. Exit at Borden Avenue, turn right on Borden, and then again on Vernon. Take a left on 49th Avenue at that point.
If you’re coming from the Queensboro Bridge or Queens Boulevard, take 21st Avenue south, then a right on Jackson Avenue. Then turn right on 48th Avenue (just before MoMA P.S. 1) and turn left at the City lights Building’s corner. Finally, turn right into 49th Avenue.
The New York City Subway line 7 comes to a halt at Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue. After finishing this course, proceed two squares west to Gantry Plaza (toward the Schwartz Factory smokestacks). You can take the G Train to 21st Street/Jackson Avenue. Walking three squares west to the recreation area when you exit the metro.
The Long Island Railroad Station (LIRR) at Borden Avenue and Second Street is closed for those arriving by train. To go to the recreation area, walk north. The B61 and Q103 bus lines stop at Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue. Additionally, you can take a ship to and from the Borden Avenue station, as well as water taxis that run all across Manhattan.