Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance's City of Water Day: Making Urban Waterways Accessible to All
NYC - News
Written by Paul C. Focazio, NYSG's Web Content Manager

December 18, 2014, New York, NY - Though a stark contrast from the colder winter-like weather we're currently seeing, you can believe that it was quite sunny and warm on Saturday, July 12th when the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) held its seventh annual "City of Water Day." New York Sea Grant was once again a part of this celebration of recreation on New York City's waterways and waterfronts, visiting sites such as Manhattan Community Boathouse at Pier 96 (54th St on the West Side), which offers free kayaking all summer long. Pictured above (see insert picture) at the Boathouse is NYSG's Web Content Manager Paul C. Focazio (at right) and friend Alex Steingart.

MWA's City of Water Day “In Your Neighborhood” reaches many corners of the NY Metro area's waterfronts with more than 30 different locations throughout the five boroughs, Yonkers, and New Jersey. To see where you can kayak and boat for free during the summer season, check out the interactive map below:

Courtesy of MWA's "City of Water Day in Your Neighborhood"

MWA's Annual Waterfront Conference: A Look Back ... and Ahead

Late this past April, NYSG's Focazio attended MWA's Annual Conference, "Rebuilding NYC's Waterfront in the Wake of Severe Storms."

In early May 2015, MWA's Waterfront Conference, "Shaping Your 21st Century Waterfront," will feature an open house forum aboard the Hornblower Infinity at Pier 40 on the Hudson River. During the day-long conference, attendees will learn in-depth about MWA's Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines (WEDG) as a tool to promote access, resiliency, and better ecology at the water's edge, in addition to more traditional-format sessions. The 2015 conference will also be an opportunity to step back and consider what real progress we are making in creating communities that are truly able to withstand climate change.

This annual event - the birthplace of ideas and strategies for improving NYC's waterfront, including Vision 2020, the New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan - is the region's largest and most important annual gathering of waterfront experts, scientists, civic leaders, government officials, and activists, with over 600 participants.

New York Sea Grant is just one of Metropolitan Waterfront Alliances (MWA) over 650 partners with ties to our regional waterways. "Together we are working to transform the waters of New York and New Jersey Harbor into clean and accessible places to learn, work and play, with inviting parks, dependable jobs and reliable, eco-friendly transportation for all," says MWA President and CEO Roland Lewis.

For more on MWA, its mission, initiatives and events, see

Photo Gallery: City of Water Day 2014

There were so many ways New Yorkers joined in the festivities - from paddling on kayaks and casting fishing lines to sailing on historic schooners and conducting marine science experiments. Here is just a sample of the activities ...

MWA President and CEO Roland Lewis (wearing orange cap) cut the ribbon with help from VIPs to open the seventh annual City of Water Day on July 12, 2014. "City of Water Day is all about fun and recognizing the potential of the untapped resource that is our harbor," said Lewis. Photo: MWA

In addition to the many opportunities to kayak and canoe, there were more than 1,200 free boat tour seats given away by the end of City of Water Day. Passage between many of the locales in the Metro NY area was made easier on attendees, as this is the only day of the year when direct ferry service is available between Governors Island, Hoboken and Jersey City - and it's free. Photo: MWA

Alliance partners involved in the free kayaking that drew many to City of Water Day at Maxwell Place Park in Hoboken included the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, New York Outrigger, Resilience Adventures, Village Community Boathouse and Wee Row. Photo: MWA

The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance lined up a wide array of family-friendly activities at the City of Water Day Waterfront Activity Fairs at Governors Island and at Hoboken's Maxwell Place Park. Photo: MWA

Dozens of Alliance Partners set up information booths all over New York City and parts of New Jersey, offering activities, games, giveaways and information about their programs. Photo: MWA

Village Community Boathouse

Village Community Boathouse (VCB) provides free rowing on the Hudson River. We have community adult rows 3 times a week, and also provide space for high school and college rowing programs. The mission of this non-profit is to promote awareness of the public ownership of NYC's urban waterways and to provide the means for everyone to access them; to introduce the public, and especially young people, to the joys of rowing and sailing Whitehall Gigs in New York Harbor and to revive the arts of small-boat seamanship and boat building; to advance the environmental stewardship of the harbor and the estuary; and to foster a tradition of maritime hospitality and fellowship. All photos courtesy of VCB.

A group of Village Community Boathouse adult volunteers and Stuyvesant High School Students and Alumnae rowed 3 Whitehall Gigs from Pier 40 to Governors Island to participate in the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s (MWA) City of Water Day Festival.

Rowing past Pier A on the way home to Pier 40, located on NYC's West Side (Chelsea) in Hudson River Park.

Thousands ventured onto beaches (like this one in Hoboken, NJ), piers and docks for free boat tours, free ferries, free kayaking and free fishing. More than 450 volunteers ensured the day went smoothly. This was the first time that the City of Hoboken participated in the festival’s seven year history. The event was staged at the beach at Maxwell Place Park, also the location of the Hoboken Cove Boathouse. Offerings at the beach included paddle boarding, outriggers, kayaking, and rowing.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse (BBPB)

The purpose of this NYC non-profit organization is to promote human-powered boating and safe public access to the Brooklyn waterfront, to provide opportunities for people to learn about and participate in human-powered boating, and to promote environmentally sound policies that provide for and sustain human-powered boating in New York harbor. All photos courtesy of BBPB.

Spiral Ramp at Pier 2 on Governors Island was a bit dry between tides, but Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse's crew was excited to be under way.

Mike Sylves
, a board member and the treasurer for the Boathouse, lead the way for his group, who camped out on Governors Island overnight during City of Water Day. "This was a good trip to socialize with members of other boathouses and the human-powered boating community in general," said Sylves.

On Sunday, July 13th (the day after City of Water Day), the crew readied themselves to depart after their overnight camp out on Governors Island.

Kayakers in the Hudson River with NYC's financial district as their backdrop.

More Info:

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via for NY Coastlines, its flagship publication, which merged with our e-newsletter, Currents, in 2014 - is published several times a year.

Home *  What is NYSG? *  Research *  Extension *  Education *  News & Events *  Publications
  Grants & Policies * Staff * NYSG Sites *  Related Sites * (631) 632-6905

Problems viewing our Site? Questions About our Site's Social Media / Other Features? - See Our Web Guidelines

For NYSG Staff ... Site Administration