West Farms Rapids Park is now officially open to the public!
Although the opening of any park is monumental, the history of West Farms Park makes its introduction exceptional. In the 90s, different community forces had been a part of restoring the park. The park had been closed since 2008 because of a default by a previous contractor. And was left unfinished until work resumed in 2019 with a new contractor. It is not only a historical piece of the Alliance’s restoration efforts, but also an artifact of American history. Greenway Manager, Jonah Garnick, goes over more of its history in a previous blog entry, “West Farms Rapids: The Latest Link.”
Currently, Greenway Team Co-Chair Nilka Martell, is leading a campaign to rename the park Restoration Park, to pay homage to the park’s significance as part of the history of the river’s restoration and honor all the dedicated advocates, volunteers, and organizers who spent countless hours making the river what it is today.
Recently, I had the opportunity to experience the park for myself. Being directionally challenged made it difficult for me to figure out where East Tremont Avenue was, but eventually, I was greeted by the vast path of the park.
Beginning of the trail (pictured above) and chess table (pictured below)
Seeing tables ahead and feeling my hunger build, I decided to go straight up the path. As I ate my lunch, I took in the serenity of my surroundings: The flow of the river, the distant conversations people were having on the phone, the 2 and 5 trains running through, and the birds endlessly chirping. I was curious about the new greenway route, so I decided to go back to the fork of the trail. While walking, I admired the safety and the encouragement of biking that had been taken into consideration on the ground.
I saw the grandness of the amphitheater and thought of all the ways people could interact with it. Ranging from a nice picnic to just reading a book, I found it to be a perfect centerpiece for the park. I walked up to a man who appeared to be playing on his phone and asked him what he thought of West Farms Rapids overall. “I like how it connects East Tremont and 180th [street]. It’s a lovely park,” he replied. “This is my very first time here, it is a calm place to come to for my work break.”
I continued down the trail and saw steps to go down to the river. Carefully, I went down to get a closer look at the river. In this area, it was more shallow, so I saw the fine details of the rocks just underneath the water.
Steps leading up to the river (above)
A landscape view of the river (above)
The divided trails converged again and I continued walking down. Interestingly, the water had gotten louder and created more ripples. When I got to 180th street (the end of the park), I wanted to see the origins of the crescendo. Across the street from where West Farms Park ended was where River Park (another park of the Bronx River) had started. What I found made the journey entirely worthwhile. Framed by trees to its left and right, the sky up high and the rocks down low, there was a powerful waterfall.
We hope to see more people at West Farms Park, keeping safety in mind of course. Something notable about West Farms Park overall is that even at a time like this, it was able to become open to the public. This only bolsters the resilience that the park has always had. We are incredibly grateful to the partner organizations and local community members who have been a part of this story. This is only the beginning of a bright future in the park’s life.