Long before it was a center of shipping and industry, or a tourist destination thanks to places like Little Island and the High Line, the western shore of Manhattan was a diverse estuarine ecosystem. With the development of Hudson River Park, it’s a vibrant habitat again, with Pier 26 as one of its crown jewels.
The Hudson River at its southern end is actually an estuary, a place where fresh water from upriver and saltwater from the ocean mix and mingle, creating a nutrient-rich environment that once played host to millions of oysters before overfishing and pollution diluted the population. It was also home to many species of fish and crustaceans, as well as an important migration corridor for birds and other wildlife. Hudson River Park was established in 1998 to develop the shoreline as both a recreation destination and an ecological sanctuary comprised of over 400 in-water acres.
Pier 26 is host to a variety of recreated mini habitats including woodland forest, coastal scrubland, and maritime scrub. Toward the end of the pier is the Tide Deck, which experiences dynamic changes in the water level and wildlife population each day.
The Tide Deck at Pier 26 is an engineered rocky salt marsh that gets submerged twice daily during high tide, allowing the oysters and barnacles that live among the rocks and pylons to feed. At low tide, the cordgrass is visible and birds can hunt for food in the shallow pools left behind.
The Tide Deck can be viewed from above whenever the park is open, but River Project staff also hosts occasional tours of the deck, allowing visitors to look below.
Know Before You Go
Pier 26 is located next to West Street (West Side Highway) between Hubert and N Moore Streets. Hudson River Park is easily reached by taking the 1, 2 or 3 trains to Chambers Street.