Gantry Plaza State Park, since 1998, has opened up the Queens waterfront in Long Island City. Its award-winning design has transformed former industrial space into a flourishing public park with tremendous views of Manhattan. The park's two and a half acres on the East River is the first phase of the planned development of the western Queens waterfront by the Queens West Development Corporation (an Empire State Development Corporation subsidiary).
The park bends along the shoreline, and is landscaped with native grasses. Curved steps lead down to a plaza and then out to four piers, each distinct, stretching into the East River. The piers boast a fishing table, wooden chaise lounges, and wooden seats gently reclined for the view of Midtown. Two gantries, old shipping lifts, loom overhead, reminding us of the areas's industrial history.
The northern, more recent addition is Peninsula Park, a grassy area for picnics and playing catch.
Friends of Gantry State Park:
Initial public disapproval of the Gantry plans turned to real enthusiasm as the park took shape and opened in 1998. Hunters Point residents formed "Friends of Gantry State Park," dedicated to park upkeep. Members are from the wider neighborhood and from the towers behind the park: Citylights (condos) and Avalon Riverside (rentals).
The towers contrast sharply with the surrounding area, prefiguring the plan to gentrify all of Hunters Point.
Public Transportation to Gantry State Park:
Subway: The 7 subway stops at Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue. Walk west two blocks to Gantry. Just look up at the Schwartz Factory smokestacks and walk in that direction.
The G subway is at 21st Street/Jackson Avenue. Walk three blocks west.
Train: The LIRR station at Borden Avenue and 2nd Street is close. Walk north and over. (LIRR only runs to Jamaica from LIC.)
Bus: The B61 and Q103 buses stop at Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue.
Ferry: From Borden Avenue the Water Taxi goes to Manhattan.
Driving Directions to Gantry State Park:
Long Island Expressway (LIE): Gantry Plaza is inches from the Midtown Tunnel.
Westbound, take exit 15 and turn right on Van Dam Street. Turn left on 49th Avenue. Continue to the end.
Eastbound can be tricky. Exit Borden Avenue, turn right, right again on Vernon, and left on 49th Avenue.
Queensboro Bridge or Queens Boulevard: Turn south on 21st Avenue. Turn right on Jackson Avenue. Right on 48th Avenue (just past PS 1). Left at the corner by the Citylights Building. Right on 49th Avenue.
Address and Phone:
Gantry Plaza State Park
474 48th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11109
More to Do in Long Island City:
- Water's Edge Restaurant: Fine dining very close to Gantry with amazing views.
- P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Museum: World-class art housed in a former NYC public school.
- Noguchi Sculpture Museum: Collection of art by Isamu Noguchi in a beautiful setting.
Best Fireworks Spot on Long Island:
Gantry Plaza is the premier venue in Queens for watching the annual Macy's 4th of July fireworks show. See the Chrysler Building reflect the rockets' red glare. Get there early for a spot. It's much easier to take the 7 subway and walk a couple blocks than to fight for a parking spot.