Manhattan’s East Side starved for open space: report

East River Esplanade on the Upper East Side
East River Esplanade on the Upper East Side

The East Side of Manhattan is facing a drought of open space, with two-thirds of residents unable to walk to a large park, according to a new report seen by the Wall Street Journal.

Development on Manhattan’s West Side has led to a flurry of new parks – such as the High Line — and open spaces, but the East Side’s existing spaces are overburdened and disconnected, the report – commissioned by City Council members Daniel Garodnick and Jessica Lappin – finds.The report comes at a time when East Side residents and the city are making the biggest push in decades to create more open space, including a plan to transform the area’s waterfront into a continuous stretch of open space.

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“The reality is that [the East Side] is one of the most underserved communities in the city in terms of the actual amount of open space,” Holly Leicht, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, a nonprofit group that wrote the report, told the Journal.

In Lappin’s district—which includes much of the Upper East Side east of Third Avenue— a mere 13 percent of residents can stroll to a large park. The district has less than half an acre of open space per 1,000 residents, in comparison to the 2.5 acre benchmark that the city uses in its environmental review process.

In Garodnick’s district—which includes Stuyvesant Town and the Upper East Side near Central Park— the situation is even more dire. About 40 percent of residents don’t live within walking distance of a large public park, and the district has less than half an acre of open space per 1,000 residents. [WSJ]  – Hiten Samtani