Public vs. Private

The measure of success for a waterfront is that it unquestionably feels public. When at the water’s edge, there should be no question that you are in a public space – a public park. This public vs. private dynamic has played out dramatically along the Hudson River Waterfront.

Where municipalities along the Hudson River Waterfront failed to map the public street system, developers built private enclaves right at the water’s edge — complete with guardhouses, fences and gates. Although the State of New Jersey requires developers to build their portion of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, it is often hidden behind gates, difficult to get to, and does not feel like a public park.

Good planning can prevent this kind of privatization of waterfronts. Building a public street along the waterfront provides a clear line of demarcation between the private development on one side and the public space at the water’s edge. A clear separation ensures that the water’s edge belongs to the public and is in fact a public park.

Related articles

Mapping & Platting
What do Zuccotti Park and Hudson River Waterfront Walkway have in common?
Privatizing the Planning Process
Roots over the river (June 2001)

Shelter Bay Club in Edgewater

The Shelter Bay Club condo association in Edgewater, NJ fenced off the public walkway until years of litigation by NJDEP forced then to remove the barrier.