Sherman Creek Park, a former illegal dumping site, began as a shore cleanup and now encompasses five beautifully reclaimed acres along the Harlem River including Swindler Cove, the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, and Riley-Levin Children’s Garden and renovated shoreline with and additional boating facility; and the Harlem River Greenway comprised of the esplanade, bike path, and our cherry tree planting project framing the Harlem River Drive.
Serving as the center of our education programs and volunteer opportunities, Sherman Creek serves to demonstrate the sustainable management of public lands in an under-resourced community, from hosting a major compost site in Northern Manhattan to implementing organic gardening techniques and best horticultural practices on a daily basis.
NYRP’s work in Sherman Creek and the surrounding landscape recognizes the remarkable value of natural resources found in Northern Manhattan and works to create improved access to and management of the diverse natural communities of the region.
NYRP is responsible for conceiving, developing, executing and maintaining the vibrant and versatile Swindler Cove at Sherman Creek Park, a former illegal dumping site transformed by NYRP into a gorgeous green space. The 5-acre space is home to the Riley-Levin Children’s Garden.
Swindler Cove represents the crown jewel of New York Restoration Project’s public park projects. Opened to the public in August 2003, Swindler Cove represents the full spectrum of NYRP’s mission to restore open space as a catalyst for community revitalization and environmental conservation.
In 1999, in partnership with the State of New York Department of Transportation and acclaimed landscape designer Billie Cohen, NYRP transformed the land into an oasis of native natural habitats with a lush array of restored woodlands, wetlands, native plantings and a freshwater pond, accented by a gracious pathway.
PETER JAY SHARP BOATHOUSE
Long before the city geared long-term plans for a sustainable future towards increasing waterfront development and accessibility, NYRP had the foresight to recognize the significance of the Harlem River to the Inwood/Harlem community. After clearing the pathway to access the river, NYRP opened the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse in June 2004. The boathouse is now home to our non-profit partner, Row New York. At the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, Row NY provides young people from New York City’s under-resourced communities with rowing programs that instill a sense of pride, motivation and life skills that often lead participants to college, many on rowing and academic scholarships.
The idea for a recreational community boathouse first came to NYRP Founder Bette Midler when she learned that many academic and athletic scholarships being made available to northern Manhattan high school students who participated in rowing programs were being unused due to the lack of local programs. In 1998, NYRP engaged celebrated architect Robert A.M. Stern to design the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, the first community boathouse of its kind on the river in over 100 years.
The unique structure was built with lead support from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation. When finished in 2003 the firm of Foglietta & Son worked for another year to complete assembly. Armand LeGardeur, a former architect with Robert A.M. Stern Architects, shepherded the boathouse through this complex process and contributed some of his renowned Victorian designs to the structure’s graceful aesthetic.
Sherman Creek Park is threatened by climate change-induced erosion and sea level rise and in 2020 we introduced an ecosystem-based solution called a living shoreline.
Integrating native plantings and an artificial oyster reef, our living shoreline design aims to not only attenuate waves that wash away sediment but also enhance the native wetland habitat—one of the last of its kind in all of Manhattan. By stacking specialized concrete blocks called Oyster Castles, its design helps build new habitat for marine species that, over time, could transform the dynamics of a park that we might otherwise lose.
We continue to monitor the shoreline’s evolution to better understand and quantify the ecosystem services that urban wetland restoration projects like ours might offer. “We know that, acre per acre, wetlands are better than forests at fighting climate change,” says Director of Northern Manhattan Parks Jason Smith. “It just requires shifting our relationship with the landscape and realizing it’s not about building a big project and walking away; it’s about staying engaged, stewarding it, and learning from it.”
3725 10th Ave.
New York, NY 10034 Manhattan, New York (Inwood)
Biking, composting, gardening, picnicking, running, walking, waterfront access