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Always a Destination: A Peek at Pier 84’s Past

Featuring expansive greenspace (a substantial snow-scape, these days!), an exploratory Play Area, popular dog run, thriving boathouse, interactive fountain and more, Pier 84 is a Hell’s Kitchen gem. And the history of this dynamic pier is as rich and varied as its assets. From bustling passenger ship terminal to concert venue to urban oasis, we’re taking a closer look at the many lives of our largest public pier!

In the early 20th Century, Pier 84 served as a passenger ship pier for the Cunard Line. Built in 1924, it became an arrival point for many, from Olympic athletes to foreign dignitaries to returning WWII soldiers. And for thousands of immigrants, Pier 84 was the first stop in their new country before being shuttled by ferry to Ellis Island.

Following the decline of passenger liners, in 1975 Pier 84 was opened to the public. During this time, its open space was often used by the City as a parking lot, but Pier 84 is remembered by many for an incredible lineup of concerts. From 1981 to 1990, the pier became a venue for legendary acts and up-and-coming stars. U2, The Ramones, Miles Davis, Carlo Santana, The Beach Boys, Aerosmith, The Clash, The Cure, The Smiths and many, many more brought star power to our riverfront.

By the 1990s, however, Pier 84 was in a state of disrepair. A group of community activists created the Friends of Pier 84 to advocate for its reopening to the public, and for Pier 84 to be incorporated into the Hudson River Park plan. With the passage of the Hudson River Park Act, Pier 84 was designated a new public Park pier. In 2006 construction was completed, and the beautiful, green pier was opened to the public!

Today Pier 84—one of the largest piers on Manhattan’s waterfront—holds echoes of its past lives. At the end of the pier, you’ll find a hook-shape platform that recalls the original structure used to guide passenger ships into their berths. And Pier 84 remains a musical destination—most recently, through our popular Jazz at Pier 84 series. Next time you’re enjoying this beautiful urban oasis, we hope these peeks of the past will make your enjoyment even richer.

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