The Hudson River and Harbor Estuary is the biggest public space in the nation’s largest metropolitan area. Access to these waters – whether for swimming, boating, fishing, or just enjoying the spectacular views – is an amenity that impacts quality of life and drives spending and investments by residents, visitors, and businesses.
The Foundation works to increase access and engagement with our waterways through programming and infrastructure improvements at parks and other public spaces. We are particularly focused on helping underserved communities that may not have green spaces where people can safely recreate. HRF supports local environmental leadership and helps communities create their own public programming through small grants. These funds have supported refurbished docks, waterfront festivals, classroom experiences, and even children's swimming lessons.
SUCCESS STORY: Sawmill River Daylighting
In 1922, the City of Yonkers banished a polluted stretch of the Sawmill River beneath a half-mile of dirt, brick, and concrete. The Sawmill stayed hidden for decades until the 1990s when the City decided to “daylight” a stretch of the river as part of larger project to revitalize its downtown area. The Foundation leveraged its institutional expertise with a series of small Hudson River Improvement Fund (HRIF) grants, to help the local advocacy group Groundwork Yonkers through the strategic planning process, which included plans for education programs and dedicated outdoor education space, also partially-funded by the HRIF. That early investment laid the stage for an amazingly fast and successful daylighting process. The river has remained vital piece of Yonkers since. Daylighting the Sawmill not only created a beautiful recreation space, but it also increased habitat for birds, fishes, and other wildlife. The daylighting has become such a financial asset to Yonkers’ downtown that that the city now intends to uncover additional stretches of the river.