Harlem River Park


This narrow 20- acre park sandwiched between Harlem River Parkway and the Harlem River features porous alternatives to standard hard waterfront infrastructure. Porous sea-walls are composed of stacked greenwalls and flexible gabions, and tide pools and native vegetation are integrated within the parks infrastructure. In addition to providing a more absorbent floodplain, the project also improves public access, creates nearshore and upland habitat, and provides a vehicle for community-based arts and cultural expression.

Lessons Learned

  • The cost of porous shores can be about the same as for traditional seawalls.
  • Porous waterside infrastructure can reduce negative impacts of urbanized shorelines on rivers.
  • Sloped, porous infrastructure can slow the velocity of water, and absorb flood water.
  • Native vegetation supports species that use different zones along the river and floodplain.
  • Providing safe access to the water’s edge in a highly developed area provides a unique opportunity for public access to the river.
  • Different activities such as a multiple purpose bicycle path, kayaking, relaxing, education, and artistic expression can be accommodated in the same space.
  • Ecological and community improvements are mutually attainable and beneficial.