How the City's Infrastructure Woes Set a Park up to Fail
Two global cities, two sets of philanthropists willing to pay for riverfront gardens created by the same superstar designer, Thomas Heatherwick. Both projects abruptly canceled within the past month, after tens of millions of dollars spent and years devoted.
New York and London often do the same things at the same time — and now they’re deciding to not do things at the same time. It’s a lesson for donors who genuinely want to help their towns: People are exhausted with grand ideas, and want back-to-basic investment in public works.
In New York last week, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, the married media and fashion tycoons, pulled support for their 5-year-old project to build a tree-filled park and performance space on a new pier along the Hudson River Park downtown.
Diller, who says the couple spent $40 million, lashed out at opponents who sued to stop the project, telling The Post that “what they have gained” for the public — nothing — “is pathetic.”
Last month, the supporters of a similar “Garden Bridge” across the Thames in London, spearheaded by “Absolutely Fabulous” actress Joanna Lumley, were in the same dark mood. “It is a sad day for London because it is sending out a message to the world that we can no longer deliver such exciting projects,” they said in cancelling their own half-decade-old initiative.
This piece originally appeared in New York Post