Designed by Dutch landscape architecture firm West 8, The Hills transform the ice cream cone-shaped flatlands of Governors Island into a topographic roller coaster that rises as high as 70 feet above sea level.
The 10-acre area is the latest phase in the city’s $220 million plan to transform Governors Island into a vibrant new landmark and destination. Other attractions at the revamped park include a 14-acre play lawn, an upgraded 12-acre Parade Ground, a 10-acre Hammock Grove, and a new ferry dock.
Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects selected 54 native or locally adapted plant species for The Hills, ensuring that the flora of the landscape will thrive for many years to come.
The four distinctive hills promise a bit of something for everyone. Sunbathers and picnickers can lay out on Grassy Hill‘s mildly slanted slope and take in phenomenal views of the Lower Manhattan skyline.
Those looking for a bit more excitement will find it over at Slide Hill, which boasts four slides built into the 40-foot-high slope, including the longest in NYC, which measures in at 57-feet-long.
The fun continues on the other side of Slide Hill with a rock scramble made up of massive blocks of granite taken from the old seawall that the army placed in the harbor when they expanded Governors Island in 1905. The slabs were salvaged when the seawall was replaced with a more resilient rip-rap revetment in 2012.
If you’re looking to soak in a bit of culture along with the sun, 60-foot-high Discovery Hill is a place for peaceful contemplation amidst various art exhibitions and ornamental trees. British artist Rachel Whiteread created her sculpture “Cabin” as a permanent piece for the site.
And finally, soaring 80 feet above the island, Outlook Hill is a chance to test out your hiking skills and take in stunning vistas of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the rest of the island.
The raised topography of the Hills also serves a practical and resiliency-related purpose – elevating the terrain above the 100-year flood plain. A testament to these resiliency efforts, the park, which was still under construction at the time, saw little to no damage after Hurricane Sandy hit New York Harbor in 2012.
With so much to offer, we’re truly bummed that this new gem on Governors Island will soon be shutting down shop for the year, but there are still a few weeks left to enjoy it! Hightail it over to The Hills before they close on September 25.
Photos: Yuka Yoneda or Inhabitat NYC