A Guide to the East River Greenway of Manhattan
New York City is full of walking paths that wrap around rivers, parks, and city streets. One of the top options to choose from when visiting Manhattan has to be the East River Greenway. The running / walking / biking path runs between Battery Park in the south all the way up towards 120th Street in the north. In between you will get some fantastic river, city and bridge views along the way. Read on to learn more about the southern end of the East River Greenway and what to expect along the way.
1) Getting to Know the East River Promenade
The path that runs all along the East River of Manhattan can be broken down into two main sections. One section runs between Battery Park and 34th Street, while the second section runs between 60th Street and 120th Street.
The reason there are two sections here is because the United Nations is located directly on the water near 42nd Street, so the path stops several blocks prior to this on the south side. On the north side, while there are a couple pedestrian sections on the water, they are not connected to the northern end of the East River Greenway.
Once you get to 60th Street though, the pathway will continue all the way towards 120th Street and you should be able be able to enjoy the river for another few miles.
If you are looking to walk, bike, or run the entirety of the East River Greenway, then between 34th Street and 60th Street you will need to make a quick 1+ mile detour onto 1st Avenue, circumventing the United Nations and catching the path on the other side.
2) East River Greenway Map
The below map, courtesy of NYC.gov, shows the southern end of the East River Greenway between the 34th Street and Battery Park. Note that the map also shows the Hudson River walking path as well. This guide, however will just focus on the right hand side of the map – from the green/red intersection around 34th Street down to Battery Park in the south. I plan on writing up a separate guides for the northern end of the greenway (and Hudson side) as well.
This southern portion of the walkway is approximately 5 miles in length and should take around 3 hours with breaks if you are walking. The entire greenway from Battery Park to 120th Street is about 9 miles long (includes the 1+ mile detour in between the southern and northern sections).
3) East River Greenway Entrance
The starting point of the southern end section of the Greenway can be found right on the most eastern part of 34th Street. You simply just need to get to 34th Street, walk all the way east, cross under the FDR underpass, and you will then be right on the water. Below is a picture just as I was crossing the underpass and beginning my walk down towards Battery Park.
While I like taking part of the path from north to south, you can also opt to start downtown before heading up. If doing so, just make your way to the Staten Island Ferry terminal directly next to Battery Park. From here simply follow the sidewalk up the East River and you should be on your way.
While it should not be too difficult to navigate the walkway once you are on it, I did want to point out some helpful things to know as you are making your way along.
» Most of the pathway is right along the waterfront, but you will find instances where there may be construction or just one-off instances that force the pathway away from the river. Sometimes you may be walking just feet away from the FDR highway and at other times you may be walking on the sidewalk. For the most part however you should be walking along the river.
» There is one portion of walkway that gets very narrow (somewhere right around 15th Street). If you are riding a bike here you will need to dismount and walk across in case there are others coming in the opposite direction. There may also be a time or two where signs tell you to dismount your bike, so do be aware as you are making your way along.
» Some portions will also split up between walking and biking lines. Be sure to pay attention here as you don’t want to put yourself in harm’s way and accidentally head into the bike lane.
» There are a few restrooms that you can use along the pathway that I know of. One is located around 6th Street near the running track that you will pass by. There are also restrooms further south around the South Street Seaport area.
» Along the way you should find plenty of water fountains, where you can hydrate. Note though that these water fountains usually do not operate in colder weather.
» While you can take part of the entire southern end of the walkway, you can also exit the walkway and head back into the city streets at many different parts. I can’t list those out specifically because there are many of them, but at the end of the day if you are looking for an exit, you shouldn’t be too far from one.
5) Walking, Running & Biking the East River Greenway
As mentioned before, the southern end of the East River Greenway is located between 34th Street and Battery Park. You can go about your run, bike or walk in either direction but this guide will be heading from north to south.
To begin your time on the East River Greenway just make your way to 34th Street and walk east until you reach the river. You will simply cross under the underpass and you will be welcomed to the start of the pedestrian pathway.
I should note that while this is the northern most entry point, the pathway itself does head further north here for another 7 blocks until the promenade hits a dead end. You can make your way north to begin your walk and get right up and close to the United Nations building, but right when you hit the end of the promenade, you will need to turn right back around.
Whether you head a bit further north or not, you can now begin your walk south all the way down the East River Greenway. There will be a few portions of walkway where you will be right on the water while others just a bit more inland.
You will get some initial views of the Williamsburg Bridge out in the distance as you pass by the The Water Club restaurant and continue southbound. Be sure to look northbound as well, where you will see the United Nations and 59th Street bridge in that direction.
Soon you will approach some apartment buildings (Waterside Plaza) straight out ahead of you (pictured below). Here you can decide to walk right alongside the river on a narrower pathway or head closer to the street side.
After this area you will begin to walk through Stuyvesant Cove Park. It is a short but scenic greenery filled area with a swerving pathway making its way through. During / after walking through the park, be sure to take a look around in the opposite direction. You should see the top half of the Empire State Building from here.
The path continues southbound as you make your way alongside the FDR drive. At some point the path gets very narrow for a few minutes and bikers will need to dismount and walk this short portion.
Once the narrow section ends, you will enter the East River Promenade area, which is full of parks, benches, fields, and more. This section of pathway up until the amphitheater is the most popular section of the East River Greenway as the path widens, bridges come into better view, and there are plenty of places to sit down and enjoy.
I should note that there is also an inner pathway here closer to the street but I would definitely recommend the route closer to the East River as that is where all the views will be found.
Continue alongside the various ball fields, tracks, and tennis courts as you slowly approach the first of three bridges – the Williamsburg Bridge. Check out some of the close up shots that you can enjoy from down below.
After passing by the Williamsburg Bridge you will see a couple more fields to your right followed by the East River Park Amphitheater. If you want to run some stairs, here is your opportunity.
Once past the amphitheater you will see that the foot and bike traffic goes down as many locals turn back around at this point. However, if you are looking to enjoy the East River Greenway, I highly recommend continuing onwards. Around this area you should also get a peak of the Statue of Liberty way out in the distance. It is basically the only time between 34th Street and the Staten Island Ferry where you will get to see it.
The path here will turn inland as you head away from the water and pass by some of the main pier areas. As the path comes back towards the water, be on the lookout to your left here as you approach Pier 35, a relatively newer addition to the East River Greenway. It is a great little area to hang out at and enjoy the view of the Manhattan Bridge out in front of you and the Brooklyn Bridge just following it.
Note that during much of this portion of pathway you will be walking somewhat underneath the purple FDR overpass. It may not feel as open as other parts of the walkway but you will still have some scenic views throughout.
It is then further south as you pass under the second bridge of your journey, the Manhattan Bridge, and then right towards the most famous of NYC bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge. If you would like to learn more about the bridge itself, check out the Brooklyn Bridge Walking guide up on the site.
Right after passing underneath the Brooklyn Bridge you will come across the South Street Seaport area, around Piers 15,16, and 17. One of my favorite spots of the East River Greenway is the outdoor deck area at Pier 17, where you will find several lounge area to sit back and enjoy the view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
The path then continues further southbound as you slowly approach the end of the greenway. You will come across a couple last piers and helicopter pads and then pass by the Governors Island Ferry terminal before ending your journey right outside the Staten Island Ferry.
From here you can continue further along to Battery Park, where you can get some great Statue of Liberty and Governors Island views. You can also choose to continue your walk around the tip of Manhattan and up the Hudson River Greenway on the west side of Manhattan.
6) Where to Stay in Manhattan
There are so many different neighborhoods to choose from when visiting Manhattan. Below are some of my top choices for a few of my recommended locations in the city:
Chelsea: If you are looking to be well situated between uptown, midtown, and downtown, then Chelsea can be a great option for you. You have highlights such as the Highline, Chelsea Market, the Vessel, and the Hudson River right nearby. And if you are looking to head to Central Park uptown or the World Trade Center area further downtown, then you are just a quick subway ride away. Recommended Chelsea hotels:
Midtown: Right in the middle of the action is the midtown area, where you have the one and only Times Square, and all Broadway shows right at your doorstep. You are also within walking distance to the southern end of Central Park. Almost all subway lines connect at Times Square so getting around should not be an issue. Recommended Midtown hotels:
Tribeca: If you are trying to stay in downtown Manhattan, then I would recommend looking into the Tribeca area. Staying here and you will be just a stone’s throw away from the World Trade Center area, 9/11 Memorial Pools & Museum, and the hop on point for the Statue of Liberty. Recommended Tribeca Hotels:
That wraps up a guide to the southern portion of the East River Greenway running, walking, and biking path. If you have any questions or comments about the route, feel free to add them in below.
Also be sure to check out the other New York travel guides up on the site such as. Have fun out there and safe travels!