East River Esplanade gets long-requested fitness equipment

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY – River-view workouts will soon be possible on the Upper East Side, as fitness equipment has been added to a plan to renovate a six-block stretch of the East River Esplanade.

The Special Surgery Hospital announced plans for equipment at a community board meeting on Thursday, as it shared updates on its plans to renovate the walkway between 72nd and 78th streets. East.

These renovations began earlier this spring, coinciding with HSS’s construction of a new 12-story building that will rise above FDR Drive at East 71st Street. In addition to sprucing up the pathways and adding chairs and plantings, HSS now plans to build the mini-gym under the pedestrian walkway ramp at East 78th Street, representatives told Community Board 8.

The East River Esplanade as it appears now (left) and as it will be after upcoming renovations, facing south (right). (Quennell Rothschild/Community Board 8)

It will include a seated bench, an arm cycle machine, a set of steps, a site for resistance bands, an upright chest press, pull-up bars and parallel bars. (The last three items will be accessible by ADA.)

“We’ve been asking for fitness equipment forever,” Jennifer Ratner, founder of Friends of the East River Esplanade, said at the meeting. “We’re so excited for this to actually happen.”

Last April, Ratner’s group says CB8 on the need for fitness equipment, showing photos of East Siders who had resorted to “dangerous” makeshift installations like bungee cords stretched from a basketball hoop at Carl Schurz Park, or ropes hanging from the Alice Pavilion Aycock on East 60th Street.

Last year, defenders submitted photos showing bungee cords stretched from a basketball hoop at Carl Schurz Park (right) and ropes hanging from the red Alice Aycock Pavilion on East 60th Street (left). (Friends of the East River Esplanade)

Its placement under the walkway railing will help protect users from the elements, according to Andrew Moore, landscape architect at Quennell Rothschild who shared the plans last week.

Council members applauded the additions, although some said the renovations only underscored the need for more security cameras to be installed on the Esplanade – a longstanding request from neighbors, who say the walkway is very frequented is almost unsupervised.

In late March, the Esplanade between approximately 70th and 72nd Streets began an approximately six-month closure as HSS begins excavation and foundation work on the new tower nearby. Soon, the hospital will begin demolishing the pedestrian walkway at East 71st Street, with plans to replace it with a temporary ramp around May, according to HSS.

The new HSS Kellen Tower will be built on a platform above the FDR at East 71st Street. Costing tens of millions of dollars, the facility, when complete, will cover 94,000 square feet. (HSS)

The hospital plans to share construction updates on its new building via email, and neighbors can send questions to [email protected]

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