Harlem’s Hidden Gem
by Carly Trunkwalter.
Just in time for Spring sports season, Harlem’s popular Riverbank State Park’s Track and Field is finishing up a major makeover. The eight lane, 400 meter running track had some cosmetic upgrades to undergo and will be ready for use in the beginning of May 2012. “There were bumps and groves in the track that needed to be smoothed and repaved,” says park supervisor, Ricky Davis. The field, used for lacrosse, football and soccer is also being resurfaced.
The 28-acre elevated public park has many attractions. Since its opening in 1993, Riverbank has developed into an attractive community landmark. It is equipped with an ice rink that operates from November through January and doubles as a roller skating rink the rest of the year. Skates cost $6.00 for an hour. The rink has surround speakers to play popular songs for guests. A large gymnastics center holds seasonal classes. An aquatic center facilitates an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Aside from the recreational fun, the trendy Tian restaurant sits on the north end of the park and has a beautiful view of the Hudson River. The 150-seat restaurant has outdoor seating, full bar and eclectic Asian and South American dinner and brunch menu. Tian holds salsa nights every Wednesday and on Thursday Friday and Saturday Jazz livens the dining experience. The 18-piece jazz band, Renaissance Orchestra, is a weekly contributor to the fun.
“I have lived in Harlem all my life. I grew up playing games outside with my friends,” says park supervisor Davis.” I am happy to support the youth with a place to come and play, not hide out in their rooms.”
Riverbank is a sure hit for entertaining in the warm months ahead. Head in for a late afternoon stroll. Take advantage of the sunset and romance in the city with live jazz on the waterfront. “It’s a great park for families. Parents can give their kids some freedom at the club and feel completely safe,” explains Jacquline Wade, leader of a performing arts club at Riverbank.
Check out their website for a calendar of the season’s events at www.nysparks.com.