The worldwide and West Side enthusiasm for pickleball is now being matched by four brand-new courts at W34th Street in Hudson River Park (HRPK).

HRPK Pickleball Courts
Play gets underway on the pickleball courts at Hudson River Park this morning. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The courts opened this morning, with staff from HRPK trying them out. They are open daily from 6am to 1am — and will operate on an honor system, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

HRPK stressed that these are interim pickleball courts — bigger ideas are coming for this stretch of the park.  

HRPK Pickleball Courts Noreen Doyle
Noreen Doyle, President and Chief Executive of HRPK at the informal opening of the pickleball courts today. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“We are in the process of selecting a design team for the permanent park between W29th and W44th Streets. As part of that process, we’ll go through what the trust normally does, which is a community discussion about what we have here. In the meantime, before we have designs, it’s great to be able to introduce an improvement in this area. Which frankly it could use,” said Noreen Doyle, President and Chief Executive of HRPK at the informal opening today.

Doyle said that they’ve worked hard to be “thrifty” with the new public space. “The lighting has been reused from Gansevoort Pier, and sections of the fencing, as well as all the benches, have been repurposed,” she said.

HRPK Pickleball Courts
Players on court this morning playing pickleball in Hudson River Park. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Those benches form an essential part of the system to keep the games moving. “We have the rules posted. It’s basically like our tennis [further down the river at Pier 40], so the benches are for people waiting in line. That’s worked pretty well for us over the years with our tennis courts.” said Doyle.

National governing body USA Pickleball describes the sport as a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong. It was invented in 1965 by former Congressman Joel Pritchard and friend Bill Bell, who played an improvised badminton game with ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. The name of the game honored Pritchard’s dog, Pickle, and though the sport would eventually travel far outside the Congressman’s Bainbridge, Washington, home, the moniker stuck. 

According to New York Magazine and the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, an estimated 4.2 million people played pickleball in 2020 and interest in the game is growing. Demand for more permanent space to play is evident across New York — and on the West Side, City Council Member Erik Bottcher asked pickleball players to yield Chelsea playgrounds back to children

The new courts have been constructed in an area previously used for storage by HRPK and parking for NYPD when the police tow pound was at Pier 76.

Cow Ram Head Hudson River Park
The pickleball courts occupy the area where the stone ram and cow heads used to be stored. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Hell’s Kitchen players now have a choice of many courts in the neighborhood  — including Harborview Terrace, DeWitt Clinton Park, Hell’s Kitchen Park and indoors at Life Time at Sky

Pickleball faces its challenges on the Hudson River — the strong winds.  “If you want to play sports in Hudson River Park, you have to deal with the wind. We got wind on the Hudson River,” said Doyle.

Pickleball DeWitt Clinton Park
The pickleball courts at DeWitt Clinton Park are another option for Hell’s Kitchen players. Photo:Phil O’Brien

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks for the story. I played at the Hudson River Park courts tonight and they are a great addition to the area.

  2. Enough of pickleball, lets get some dog parks. I played paddle ball, racquet ball, and tennis tournaments all my life. It’s time for greenery for our furry friends. That should have been given to the dogs. We asked for that for our dogs, guess you all don’t care about our furry friends. Lets see who going to step up and help save Astro’s Dog Park. Another dog park gone because of NYNJ transit. Find Astros dog park a new home.

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