Little Island Park opens….with two outdoor theaters

For months I had watched the construction of this strange 2.4 acre public park placed atop new concrete piles like so many oversized golf pegs where the old rotting wood Pier 54 had been — watched it from the High Line (another unusual park), and from the windows of the Whitney Museum across Tenth Avenue. So when Little Island was finally opening to the public today, I made my way through the fanatical early morning runners on Hudson River Park’s riverside esplanade (before even the dog walkers had started to appear) to get to it as early as I could, . But by the time I made my way over one of the two pedestrian bridges, there were already people practicing yoga — on a sloping lawn, on the stage of one of the two outdoor theaters — as if this had long been their usual spot. The place was already crowded.

The first thing I checked out were the two outdoor theaters — one called the AMPH, with a maximum seating capacity of 815 (as a sign informs us), the other, a much smaller venue called the Glade, without a sign about capacity, but I”m guessing about 50. The first performances are scheduled for mid-June. Most will be free, and programmed over the first three years by four artists-in-residence, including playwright and director Tina Landau, choreographer Ayodele Casel, performer and musical director Michael McElroy, and PigPen Theatre Co.

I looked at the map

then walked up and down the paths and the staircases, underneath the overpasses and over the underpasses, checked out the snack van in “The Playground” and the all-gender rest room right before The Glade, and took in the views, river-views and views of the flora, and of the crowd.

The park is open every day from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. (The Little Island staff guy, who started his job today, assured me there would be security and lots of lights.) I’ll have to return. Meanwhile, here is picture from a New York Times photographer showing what Little Island looks like at night.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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