WXY redesigns the waterfront at Sherman Creek
The Sherman Creek Masterplan meets the challenge of an inaccessible, ecologically differentiated and contested urban space at this infrastructurally dense section of waterfront along Harlem River in northern Manhattan, by weaving together a continuous publicly‐accessible esplanade with recreational uses, marine habitat and opportunities to engage directly with water.
Throughout the 19th century, the Sherman Creek Waterfront was characterised by tidal wetlands until the advent of Harlem River Ship Canal in 1895 and expansion of elevated rail service - which led to industrial growth and increased demands for electricity. The site became home to facilities such as a coal‐fired power generator, railroad maintenance yard, boat building and lumber yards. With associated population growth, the area saw housing developments and became a locus for water‐based recreational activities, playing host to a number of collegiate and social boat clubs. As it stands today, the immediate area houses electric substations, wholesale distribution centres and parking lots that create a barrier between upland residential uses and the waterfront.
The masterplan, prepared for the New York City Economic Development Corporation ("NYCEDC"), grew out of demands of local community. Over two years of community engagement identified desires regarding their waterfront, some of which have been implemented over the past few years through joint efforts of NYCEDC and Department of Parks and Recreation; development of five waterfront parks at the ends of West 202nd to West 206th Streets and clean‐up of the upland area on the south shore.
Faced with an array of challenges posed by limited land availability, decaying shore edge, legacy of toxic waste and strict environmental regulations, the Masterplan sets forth a framework for a waterfront amenity that knits existing public realm investments, provides continuous waterfront access, restores the site's natural habitat and revitalises with new recreational uses the Sherman Creek waterfront that has been inaccessible and derelict for decades.
Through the demonstration of model design solutions the framework finalises a waterfront amenity that can coexist with existing urban conditions while creating situations for the continued growth and development of community resources, potential housing sites and wider access of contested urban spaces along New York City's waterfront.
The phasing, projected over ten years, is based on the analysis of technical feasibility, ability to generate capital funding and form partnerships for the long term success of the Masterplan. Strong partnerships developed through stakeholder engagement process among the City, local elected officials, and community will ensure long term sustainability and success.