Marine science-themed playground with giant climbable fish opens in Hudson River Park


All photos courtesy of Hudson River Park.

A new marine science-inspired playground opened in Hudson River Park this week. Designed by OLIN, the Pier 26 Science Playground features large-scale structures in the shape of two endangered sturgeon species native to the Hudson River, the Atlantic sturgeon and the shortnose sturgeon, climbing nets, and other nature-inspired equipment. Located on North Moore Street, the 4,000-square-foot play area also aims to educate New Yorkers about the ecological importance of the Hudson River.

The playground is centered around two custom-fabricated play structures resembling the Atlantic Sturgeon and the Shortnose Sturgeon, two endangered fish species native to the Hudson River. The sculptures were designed by OLIN and produced by Danish play equipment design and fabrication team MONSTRUM.

Children can climb into the two structures and explore fish “anatomy,” such as a sturgeon’s swim bladder, and learn about other native wildlife through interactive play features. The area also features a perimeter seating wall, safety surfacing, climbing nets, and lush plantings of native plants and trees that connect the park to the surrounding landscape.

The play area is located next to the Hudson River Estuarium, which, when it opens, will serve as a center for marine science research and a space for educating New Yorkers about river ecology. Once the estuarium is complete, Hudson River Park’s upland section in Tribeca will be finished.

“Holiday breaks may be over, but it doesn’t mean the fun has to end. Hudson River Park’s new Science Playground is a place for children and their imaginations and adventures, but it’s also a place for learning about our local habitat,” Noreen Doyle, president and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust, said.

The play area is the fifth playground in Hudson River Park and complements the ecologically-themed Pier 26. Opened to the public in September 2020, Pier 26 is inspired by Manhattan’s natural shoreline and features native indigenous plants and trees and a habitat walk that leads visitors through five ecological zones: woodland forest, coastal grassland, maritime scrum, rocky tidal zone, and the Hudson River.

Pier 26 also includes multi-use recreation fields, a man-made rocky tidal marsh, and a cantilevered walkway that provides a unique ecological experience with incredible views of the water and the Statue of Liberty.

“As a former science teacher, I love HRPT’s integration of creative play with an age-appropriate lesson in local marine biology,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said. 

“By showcasing the Hudson’s native sturgeons, the Science Playground is helping build kids’ appreciation for New York City’s environment and will foster the next generation’s commitment to protecting our natural resources. The Science Playground will be a must-visit destination for all families spending time around Hudson River Park.”


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