Recommendations for the Future of Carl Schurz Park

Reconnecting to East River Waterfront:


Currently, the Carl Schurz Park is separated from the bountiful waters of the East River, which it was once connected to in the past. In between the Park and the water lies the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive – commonly known as the FDR Drive. It forms the line of demarcation between the interior of the East Side and the East River, running approximately nine and a half miles long. Two layers of the FDR separate the Carl Schurz Park from the East River: the northbound FDR lanes the on the middle layer, and the southbound FDR lanes on the bottom layer, with the park itself on the top layer. Although the parkway is a necessary facet of the area, and serves a vital purpose for commuters, it also has several harmful polluting effects on the park and its the species. Therefore, our proposed idea is to redirect the Parkway away from the park, so that it can once again be joined with the aquatic environment and species that it has previously been joined with in the past. Reconnecting the park to the waterfront could return it to a more natural state.

Models for Reconnection:

  • Cheonggye Freeway, South Korea: In the 1970s, the Cheonggye River in Seoul, Korea, was covered and a road and elevated freeway were built over it. By the year 2000, the area became one of the most congested and noisy parts of Seoul. IT was decided that the freeway would have to be removed in order to combat these issues, as well as stimulate the economy. Freeway demolition began in June, 2003 and was completed in September, 2003.  Stream restoration began in July, 2003 and was completed in September, 2005. In March, 2003, Seoul began constructing its first Bus Rapid Transit line, which serves the route of the freeway and is designed to accommodate the drivers of the 120,000 cars that used the road every day. It was completed in June, 2003, at the same time the freeway was closed

Cheonggye Before

Cheonggye After

  • Saw Mill River, Yonkers, New York: Just before the Saw Mill River reaches the Hudson River, it flows in a concrete flume under a parking lot known as Larkin Plaza. The river was undergrounded in the 1920’s as an Army Corps of Engineers flood mitigation and sanitary project. A daylighting project has been planned in which the base flow of the Saw Mill River will be diverted from the current underground flume into a new natural river bed and into the daylight. This will allow both the salt water from the Hudson River to fill the basin and allow for fish to migrate up the Saw Mill River.

The Saw Mill River Being Covered

Reintroduction of Native Species:

As we paced through the perfectly manicured park, we couldn’t help to notice that although remarkably beautiful, most of the species of plants and flowers seemed very artificial and carefully manipulated by man. Additionally, there did not seem to be so much diversity in terms of types of animal species found in the park. Only typical animals such as bees, birds, and squirrels could be seen, as expected in most other parks. For a park with such a rich history, it seems only logical that it should consist of some of the unique species that had thrived in the area in the past. Gradual reintroducing some of the native animals and plants, as found in the Manahatta Project, will not only add to the visual brilliance of the park, but will provide a bridge to the environment of the park’s past.Wildlife such as the Meadow Vole, Semipalmanated Plover, Eastern Painted Turtle, and Redback Salamander, which was originally found in the area of the park, can be reintroduced by ensuring that the current environment is suitable to for these populations, and each will have a sustainable food source available to them. Factors such as available food source as well as climate will play a role in determining which of these native species will be reintroduced in the park.

Decreasing Habitat Fragmentation:

Green Corridor

One of the biggest challenges facing scientists in urban ecology is habitat fragmentation, which is the emergence of discontinuities in an organism’s preferred habitat. Urbanization and development not only limit species habitats, but fragment them with highways, streets, construction, etc. Species become trapped in one area because they have no way of getting to another “green” area of the city, since most are incapable of getting around city streets. Area is the primary determinant of the number of species in a fragment, so the size of the park or “green” space greatly influences the number of species in that fragment. This is because small fragments can support small populations of plants and animals, and small populations are more vulnerable to extinction.
One suggesting to countering this problem is to decrease habitat fragmentation through “green” corridors that would connect parks through out the city. Specifically, Carl Schurz Park could be connected to Central Park through a park pathway that would allow different species to migrate. This would increase the area in which the species live, thus increasing diversity, and decreasing chances of extinction of the species that would be able to migrate between parks.

One Response to Future

  1. Jason Munshi-South says:

    You have a good start here. I would like to seem more work, however.

    How exactly could the park be reconnected to the waterway? If you remind me, then I can send you some amazing pictures on a roadway that was decommissioned in South Korea to reveal a stream that had been covered over. In Yonkers, there is also a plan to uncover a section of the Saw Mill River that was paved over (look up the Groundwork Hudson Valley website). You can draw inspiration for your recommendations from these past and current efforts.

    How would you choose which native species to plant in the park? Refer back to your Manahatta research at the beginning of the presentation. Could this park be connected to Central Park or Highbridge Park (or even Riverside on the west side)? Building “green” corridors for nature lovers and biodiversity to move through the city could be an exciting new plan for the future.


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