A ‘Mini High Line’ for Chinatown

The space under the foot of Manhattan Bridge is slated to be transformed into Forsyth Street Plaza. (Photo by Chen Chen via The China Journal)

The space under the foot of the Manhattan Bridge is slated to be transformed into Forsyth Street Plaza. (Photo by Chen Chen via The China Journal)

Manhattan has always been known as a borough where the cost of land comes at a premium. But next year Chinatown will welcome a brand new “mini High Line Park” that its residents will be able to enjoy.

Chinatown residents and business owners said they were looking forward to the park, which is planned for the intersection of Forsyth and Canal streets, near the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. The area is a major thoroughfare in Chinatown, one with a lot of traffic. But the chunk of vacant space on Forsyth Street used for pedestrians and bicycles has become a place for the homeless to live and to leave their belongings.

At present, the NYC Department of Design and Construction plans to begin work on the park in 2015. The public space, to be named Forsyth Street Plaza, will occupy 10,000 square feet and will provide ample and exquisite green space for Chinatown residents to relax.

An art space will also be part of the mini High Line Park and will include poetry from Li Bai and Du Fu, two famous poets during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). This display is expected to become a highlight of the Chinatown community.

A total of $3.5 million has been invested in Forsyth Street Plaza, and construction has been broken into three phases. The first stage, which involved the widening of the pedestrian path at Canal Street and Forsyth Street, was already completed in 2011. The entire project is slated for completion by the fall of 2015.

Chinatown residents said they are looking forward to the mini High Line Park. One older woman, surnamed Zhang, explained: “A few more parks is a few more parcels of green space. For senior citizens like us, we will have a place where we can relax. It’s perfect.”

Another woman surnamed Qian, who lives on East Broadway, said, “There are very few green spaces nearby where we can relax and be entertained. In the future, after Forsyth Street Plaza is built, I will bring my son here to play.”

One man surnamed Chen, who runs a small shop below the Manhattan Bridge, said: “The space at the head of the bridge is not well-maintained. At night, a lot of homeless gather on the bridge near the bicycle path and make people feel unsafe. The Forsyth Street Plaza plan can take that space and put it to good use. I’m confident that this type of public park and its facilities can bring character to the community. Once there are more people, business will naturally prosper.”

A woman surnamed Sun, who runs a dessert business on Henry Street, explained: “I know that the businesses surrounded by the High Line in Chelsea do well because there are a lot of tourists who travel there for its reputation. The Manhattan Bridge is also a famous tourist spot. If Forsyth Street Plaza can, like the media has said, be transformed into a mini High Line Park, I believe that Chinatown will have even more tourists and that business will be even more prosperous.”

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