Hudson River Park Friends Annual Report 2023

In 2023, Hudson River Park celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Hudson River Park Act with our friends, neighbors, members and millions of Park users like you. It was an exciting year of Park expansion, with more than eight acres of new public space added at Gansevoort Peninsula, Chelsea Waterside, Pier 26’s Science Playground and Pier 57. 

The Park’s 550 acres of land, piers and water bring millions of visitors to experience the majesty of the Hudson River and decompress from the pressures of life in the big city. With more than 400 free programs each year in science education, environmental stewardship, dance, music, sports and fitness, the Park offers something to lift the spirits of every New Yorker.  

Friends works together with the Hudson River Park Trust in a unique public/private partnership. The Trust builds, operates and maintains the Park, while Friends’ supporters keep it beautiful, green and growing. This support helps care for the beautiful gardens and landscapes, educate thousands of students about the vital role of the Hudson River estuary in our environment, nourish the physical and mental health of our community and provide generations of children with places to play, learn and develop. You do this, and we are so grateful for your tremendous generosity towards this remarkable New York treasure.  

Thank you for your investment in Hudson River Park Friends and your love for this very special place. 

Diana L. Taylor,
Chair, Board of Directors

Connie Fishman,
Executive Director

New Open Spaces for New Yorkers

In 2023, the Hudson River Park Trust opened spectacular new open spaces that have introduced exciting and unique features to the Park’s four miles, from Manhattan’s first beach to a highly interactive, tech-powered classroom that enables HRPK’s River Project team to connect New Yorkers with the Hudson River year-round.  

“I’ve watched the Park develop & grow over many, many years, and it gets better with each passing year. Thank you!” — Susan Stein, Friends with Benefits Member

New Open Spaces: Gansevoort Peninsula

This past October, the Park added 5.5 acres of new open space at Gansevoort Peninsula, now Hudson River Park’s largest standalone recreational space. 

It’s been a joy to watch New Yorkers fall in love with their newest green space, which features Manhattan’s first public beachfront, walking promenades, a large sports field, a sunning lawn, dog park, picnic area, salt marsh and more to discover.

New Open Spaces: Gansevoort Peninsula

On the north side of Gansevoort Peninsula is a new salt marsh, with habitat enhancing features that extend into the river below. The first of its kind on the Manhattan side of the Hudson River, the salt marsh features native grasses and plantings at the River’s surface and reef balls and gabions seeded with 20 million juvenile oysters below. These new features add valuable habitat, improve resiliency and serve as an educational touchpoint for the public to learn about the environmental benefits of intertidal ecosystems.

New Open Spaces: Gansevoort Peninsula

Along the western edge of Gansevoort Peninsula, you will find the last remaining stretch of Manhattan’s 13th Avenue, now a promenade where visitors can enjoy a stroll along the river or relax on welcoming lounge chairs. These enduring pieces of our Park’s history help build its rich riverfront character.

New Public Spaces: Pier 57

Last spring, the ground floor of historic Pier 57 opened to the public, where visitors can explore food, art, music, hands-on environmental education and more always with spectacular views. New features include Market 57, a waterfront food market that celebrates NYC’s independent food culture, community meeting spaces, an indoor public living room and the Park’s new Discovery Tank

Groups of people sitting in chairs and at tables throughout the Pier 57 Living Room

New Public Spaces: Pier 57

A new 7,400 square foot public gathering place called the Living Room provides seating and tables with extraordinary views of Little Island and Lower Manhattan. Visitors can enjoy a coffee, a snack or meal from Market 57, or just relax in a comfortable place to connect and gather in all weather conditions.

New Public Spaces: Pier 57

The Discovery Tank is an interactive, technology-powered gallery and classroom that is free for the public to enjoy. During Guided Gallery hours and Field Trips, science lovers of all ages can explore beneath the surface of the Hudson River with interactive games to learn about the fascinating critters that call our local waterways home.

New Open Spaces: Pier 26 Science Playground

In January 2024, HRPK welcomed children to climb, explore and be inspired by our local marine habitat in the Park’s newest playground, the Science Playground at Pier 26.

New Open Spaces: Pier 26 Science Playground

The centerpieces of this one-of-a-kind play space are two giant interactive play structures in the shapes of native sturgeon species that playfully connect New Yorkers with Hudson River wildlife. This playground advances the Park’s environmental mission and invites children to learn about local ecology and explore fish anatomy up-close.

New Open Spaces: Pier 26 Science Playground

The Pier 26 Science Playground was made possible by a $3.5 million fundraising campaign completed by Hudson River Park Friends in 2022, anchored by a historic $1.3 million gift from former Friends Board Chair Michael E. Novogratz.

Renewed Open Spaces: Chelsea Waterside Park

In June, Hudson River Park welcomed our community back to enjoy the redesigned Chelsea Waterside Park, featuring a permanent picnic area, a striking new public restroom incorporating many sustainable features and a refreshed turf field.

Interim Open Spaces: Pickleball

In December, Hudson River Park’s interim pickleball courts beckoned the first picklers to play on four new courts just south of Pier 76, while earlier in the year the Park’s three tennis courts were renovated with all new surfaces.

Environmental Education & Engagement

This year more than 35,000 science lovers of all ages joined the Hudson River Park Trust’s River Project team to connect with marine and environmental science while discovering the wonders of the Hudson River.

Environmental Education & Engagement: Discovery Tank

Last year’s opening of the Pier 57 Discovery Tank, allowed the Park’s River Project team to reach new visitors and explore the Hudson River environment all year-round. It also provided a new venue for programs that explore the relationship between nature and creativity, like The Story Collider and  Painting Nature.

Environmental Education & Engagement: Student Leadership Program

HRPK’s River Project welcomed New York City high school-aged, female-identifying students for a 6-week summer research opportunity called Student Leadership Program (SLP). SLP is designed to give interns a multi-tiered mentorship experience that builds leadership and STEM skills and supports professional growth. Students attend scientific and professional development workshops, perform hands-on research, attend field trips at museums, universities and research institutions, and conduct a summer-long research project.

Environmental Education & Engagement: SUBMERGE

The popular SUBMERGE Marine Science Festival returned to welcome science lovers of all ages to Pier 84 to celebrate NYC’s coastal waters with our River Project team and more than 30 regional STEM experts.

Environmental Education & Engagement: Meet the WasteShark

Last year the River Project team presented the Park’s new WasteShark “Gulp”, a remote-operated vehicle that enables the collection of hard-to-reach debris on the river’s surface. The WasteShark can collect approximately a pound a minute of floatable debris and about 100 pieces of plastic every time it is deployed. In fall of 2023, Gulp was introduced at a Blue Team event and will be used for our volunteer Shoreline Cleanups at Gansevoort Peninsula as part of the Park’s Park Over Plastic program.

Habitat Restoration & Growing Oyster Population

In 2023, the Hudson River Park Trust installed Phase II of the Tribeca Habitat Enhancement Project, adding four million more juvenile oysters to our 400-acre Estuarine Sanctuary. These baby oysters were deployed into the River on two types of habitat structures: reef balls and gabions. Collectively, these habitat structures increase oyster populations in our local waterways and create habitat for River wildlife, including fish and crabs.

🦪 35 Million oysters installed since 2021
🦪 245 Students and volunteers
🦪 1,500 Measurements

Habitat Restoration: Monitoring

HRPK’s River Project engages local students and Friends’ volunteers in hands-on stewardship through monthly oyster growth assessments. You can follow along and monitor these oysters with our River Project scientists in this New York Times feature, and check out footage from one of our monitoring sessions.

Habitat Restoration: Gansevoort Peninsula Salt Marsh

In addition to the submerged habitat enhancements at Gansevoort Peninsula, the new salt marsh’s native grasses and plantings have become a popular destination for birds; local naturalists have already identified at least one bird species never seen before in the Park, the marsh wren, enjoying this new space.

More Public Events than Ever Before

The Park’s 25th Anniversary Season, presented by Hudson River Park Friends, welcomed more than 150,000 people to nearly 500 events in the Park — and hosted more free public events than ever before.

All summer long, music lovers savored outdoor concerts thanks to Jazz at Pier 84, presented in partnership with the Jazz Foundation of America, and Sunset on the Hudson’s Friday-night performances. The Park’s popular Healthy on the Hudson series, presented by lululemon, and the participatory Dance in HRPK series kept New Yorkers active and moving throughout the warm weather months.

More Public Events than Ever Before

The Hudson River Dance Festival, presented in partnership with The Joyce Theater, returned to Pier 63 in June, inviting a vibrant cast of world-class dancers to perform on a stage set against the shimmering Hudson River. Hudson River Park’s legendary Blues BBQ Festival attendance broke records this past August, with 16,500 food and music lovers celebrating summertime, Blues and Roots music and NYC’s best barbeque at Pier 76. Closing out an outstanding 25th anniversary season was the Park’s annual Pumpkin Smash, which invited the community to smash a record 3,000 pounds of seasonal compost at our annual Pumpkin Smash at Pier 84.

Breaking Volunteering Records

In 2023, our Volunteer Program participants, sponsors and Corporate Members made an unprecedented impact, devoting more time and effort than ever to the Park — nearly 9,400 volunteer hours — across 118 volunteer projects, more than we’ve hosted in any prior season. 

🌱 3,118 Volunteers
🌱 6,083 Plants in the ground
🌱 43,340 Flower bulbs planted

Volunteers play a vital role in keeping the Park looking great year-round and are a key part of the Hudson River Park community. Working alongside talented Horticulturists, River Project team members, and Friends staff, volunteers  give back to their community as Neighborhood Gardeners, members of our Green and Blue Teams, Compost Volunteers, participants in Corporate Community Service Days and Special Events volunteers.

Volunteer efforts are also essential to Park sustainability initiatives, including Park Over Plastic and our Community Compost Program. With the help of volunteers, our Community Compost Program collected 120,000 pounds of compost overall.

“I feel that the Park and the opportunity to work in the Apple Garden (and areas adjacent) every week is a gift to me. There’s so much camaraderie, thanks to you, and along the way, I’ve learned so much from the hort team.” — Christine Summerson, Hudson River Park volunteer

Corporate and Community Engagement

Corporate support is essential to keeping this vital urban green space thriving and growing for the millions who visit Hudson River Park every year. HRPK Friends’ Corporate Membership Program enables local companies to give back and showcase their commitment to the community through financial support and Volunteering. 

Our Friends’ Business Council, is a diverse and dynamic group of local leaders that creates opportunities for corporate engagement, volunteering, community service and visibility for sustainable business practices along the west side. 

Corporate and Community Engagement: Community Partners

Hudson River Park Friends’ Community Partners are local businesses that support the Park in a number of ways, offering special perks to to our Friends with Benefits members and Corporate Members, holding fundraisers on our behalf and spreading awareness about Hudson River Park Friends and our various programs.

Celebrating Hudson River Park’s 25th Anniversary

All year long, we celebrated the Park’s 25th Anniversary with our outstanding community of supporters. From get-togethers in the Park with our Friends with Benefits members and Four-Legged Friends to a spectacular Gala, you made this a year to remember for Hudson River Park.

Celebrating with Friends: Playground Committee

On March 8, 2024, Friends hosted the 8th Annual Playground Committee Luncheon to support all the ways this green and blue space helps NYC kids and families learn, play, grow and find joy outdoors. Hosted by Dylan Dreyer and honoring Hoda Kotb and Maria Dueñas Jacobs, this annual event raised more than $380,000 for the Park.

This past August, members of the Playground Committee and their friends gathered in Sag Harbor, NY for a summer soiree to mingle, recruit new members and raise awareness of the Park’s vital educational, environmental and family programs, playgrounds, sports fields and more. 

Celebrating with Friends: 25th Anniversary Gala

Friends’ 2023 fall Gala honored Board member Susanna Aaron, Turner Construction Company and Former Governor George Pataki, recipient of the “Legacy Award.” Hosted by Ronny Chieng, the event raised $2.75 million. Funds raised by Friends support the Park’s horticulture, habitat restoration and estuary research, sustainability initiatives, and nearly 500 free events and programs in STEM education, environmental stewardship, dance, music, fitness and more.

Celebrating with Friends: Friends with Benefits Membership Celebration

Each year we invite all our Friends with Benefits members to celebrate their participation in Hudson River Park Friends and toast the start of summer at one of the Park’s waterside venues, where they meet and mingle and enjoy sunset drinks and hors d’oeuvres with spectacular views of the Hudson River in their favorite New York City park.

Celebrating with Friends: Four-Legged Friends

Every spring and fall, our Four-Legged Friends members and pet-related Community Partners gather to spread the word about our dog membership program and have a furtastic time! At HRPK dog parks, there was a lot to celebrate last year thanks to the resurfacing at Pier 84 Dog Park, the Chelsea Waterside Dog Park expansion and the all-new Gansevoort Peninsula Dog Park.

Pier 45 at sunset

Finding InsPIERation in our Community

As part of Friends’ End-of-Year Campaign, we asked supporters to find insPIERation in Hudson River Park — and we were the ones who found ourselves inspired by our loyal Park community.

“This park was my refuge all through COVID and it brings me happiness and serenity daily. I also love that I can compost my kitchen scraps so close to home.” — Laurie Weisman

“I’m training to run the NYC Marathon next fall. Seeing other New Yorkers and guests use the piers for activities that enrich their lives makes me feel motivated to keep reaching for my goal.” — Callaway Turner

“Some of our happiest memories of New York City involve taking our baby (now toddler) daughter to Piers 46 and 51.” — Cody Keenan and Kristen Bartoloni

Phone held in hand in front of tide deck

A New Way to Explore the Park

In June of 2023, we officially launched our Digital Guide for Hudson River Park on Bloomberg Connects, the free arts and culture app from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which is home to guides for cultural institutions and parks around the world and reaches more than 2.7 million users. 

Our information-rich Digital Guide is designed to offer visitors the opportunity to follow their curiosity, and 2,500 visitors have already explored its offerings. Highlights include an interactive map and new audio guides to the Park like the Greenwich Village History Tour and a guide to HRPK’s Tribeca Habitat Enhancement.

Visit Here for Financial Information


For a list of Friends, Donors, Foundations and Corporate funders, please visit here.

Hudson River Park Friends

Board of Directors

Diana L. Taylor, Chair
Scott M. Lawin, Vice Chair
Justin Sadrian, Vice Chair
Samuel F. Martini, Treasurer
Susanna Aaron, Secretary
David Amsterdam

Cathy Blaney

Anthony Borelli

Peter Braus

Ben Brown

David Chang

Steven Charno

Jennifer Cohan

Douglas B. Heitner

Shari Hyman

David Juracich

Larry Keigwin

Sarah Lambert

Meryl Levin

‎‎‎‎‎‎Joseph B. Rose

Ben Shaoul

Martha Stewart

David Tisch

Nat Turner

Mark Van Zandt

Greg Wasserman

Jacob Werner

Daniel J. Williams

Noreen Doyle,
ex officio


Connie Fishman
Executive Director

Toby Pearce
Chief Development Officer

Cheryl Herman
Senior Director of Integrated Media

Jean Kogut
Senior Director of Finance and Operations

Amy Molinero
Senior Director of Corporate and Community Engagement

Phoebe Doran
Director of Events and Creative Services

Shannon Guttridge
Director of Development Operations

Eliza Kinsolving
Director of Individual Giving

Julie Goldberg
Senior Manager of Digital Media and Communications

Tobin Kent
Senior Manager, Volunteer Program, Corporate and Community Engagement

Brenda Palencia
Finance and Operations Manager

Rita Tobin
Institutional Giving Manager

Lea Banks
Membership and Events Associate

Gloria Butler
Friends Corporate and Community Engagement Associate

Lenke deFay
Friends Corporate and Community Engagement Associate