The threat of a $12 million parking ticket by Governor Andrew Cuomo finally got NYPD to depart Pier 76 in January. Since 1998, the state and local pols had been trying to force the police to move their Manhattan Tow Pound from 12th Avenue and W36th Street, to give over the five-acre site for community open space.
Cuomo had planned to open the Pier today — but the weather forced the opening to move to 2pm tomorrow (Wednesday, June 9). The dedication of the pier will be attended by local officials and will include a water display from the vintage John J Harvey Fireboat.
In less than 5 months, the pier has been transformed, and tomorrow the only ticket in sight will be for those lucky enough to be attending the world premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights in the northwest quadrant of the site.
The skin of the tow pound has been entirely removed, leaving a steel skeleton. The structural framework for the building has been repainted in New York State colors, with a large Excelsior State Seal. Planters have been added to the area and a recent addition has been a propeller from the SS United States.
Hudson River Park (HRP) insists that the public will have priority over private events for the site. “The north west quadrant is going to be part of the Tribeca Film Festival and we are very excited about that,” Noreen Doyle, HRP acting president, explained during a Manhattan Community Board 4 meeting last month. “The balance of the pier will be open for the public to just walk on. We directed the film towards the northern side so that people could go to the southern side, see the Statue of Liberty and the harbor views.”
The In the Heights premiere is the first of many ‘firsts’ to be marked by this year’s Tribeca Festival. It is the first in-person film festival to take place in North America since COVID, and will close out at Radio City Music Hall — the first major indoor event at full capacity, open only to a fully-vaccinated audience.
Tomorrow’s glitzy premiere is a far cry from Pier 76’s days as a tow pound — though this Halloween memory could certainly be turned into a movie! Earlier this year we asked readers for their reminiscences and had a great response — maybe now’s the time to make some new memories?
We have asked The Office of Governor Cuomo and Hudson River Park for details of opening times and will update when these become available.