East River Park stands between the East River and FDR Drive in southeastern Manhattan, stretching from East 13th Street to Cherry Street, with the Bandshell located at the southern end, just east of the end of Grand Street (where it meets FDR Drive). Created in the early 1930s when Robert Moses designed the FDR Drive (then called East River Drive), Moses actually had a ten-foot concrete extension added to the shoreline to create more parkland. Numerous renovations have occurred since then, most recently in 1994 & 1996, and the bike path created in 2001. The park is accessible to the rest of Manhattan by footbridges that cross above FDR Drive, including one that opens straight onto the back of the Bandshell’s amphitheater.
The amphitheater and Bandshell are concrete, with some benches as well, and a concrete stage floor between the amphitheater semi-circle and the Bandshell, whose stage is about four feet off the ground. The Bandshell features an odd overhang jutting out from it, over the stage floor, but it is without a covering. Both the sound and lighting are a little makeshift, with the lighting particularly poor when it gets dark out. There is no alcohol sold in the park (though it seems easy enough to bring/sneak some in), but are some regular food stalls, and a nice water station where one can fill up a water bottle.
In 2010, the free musical events at East River Park were put under the ‘SummerStage’ umbrella, as City Parks consolidated all summer musical events under one organization, including/primarily those at Central Park SummerStage. However, the modern/alternative music is still almost exclusive to Central Park, with only sporadic events in the genre at other parks, which still mainly hold world, Latin, hip-hop, dance, classical, and other city-supported music. And East River Park’s Bandshell is relatively ‘off the beaten track’, far from subway stops even for a riverside park. Plus, on neither the official park website, SummerStage website, or Google Maps is it indicated that the Bandshell is at the southern end of the park, with only a single sign pointing that way in the park itself, making it extra hard to find. But hopefully with further consolidation of the SummerStage events and pick up in the city’s economy & finances in the future, the Bandshell and amphitheater will see more use and attention.
all ages, free
South end of East River Park, east of where Grand Street meets FDR Drive
F train to East Broadway – walk 4 blocks east on East Broadway until it merges with Grand, 3 blocks east on Grand, cross FDR Drive via footbridge
F, J, M & Z trains to Essex/Delancey – walk 2 blocks south on Essex, 8 blocks east on Grand, cross FDR Drive via footbridge
-Khalid, August 12th, 2017 – photos
-Neon Indian, August 9th, 2016 – photos
-White Rabbits, August 12th, 2010 – photos