Climate Change Isn't
Coming, It's Here

The Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan aims to build Lower Manhattan’s resilience to climate risks, including daily tides and coastal storms. We are developing a comprehensive plan to secure the future of the region.

Design Proposal

What Is a Resilient
21st-Century Waterfront?

What is a Resilient
21st-Century Waterfront?






The Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan will ensure that Lower Manhattan withstands rising sea levels and increasingly intense coastal storms, while knitting a new flood defense system into the fabric of the city and creating a waterfront that serves all New Yorkers for generations to come.
The Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan will ensure that Lower Manhattan withstands rising sea levels and increasingly intense coastal storms, while knitting a new flood defense system into the fabric of the city and creating a waterfront that serves all New Yorkers for generations to come.

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Central to this master plan’s success is the need to identify reliable and technically viable infrastructure to defend the one-mile stretch from the Brooklyn Bridge to The Battery from future tidal flooding and coastal storms. The primary design challenge is to achieve these resilience goals while continuing to provide universal accessibility to, from and along this waterfront, reconstructing ferries and maritime uses to make them resilient, and respecting the ecology of the East River. The master plan also presents an opportunity to improve how people experience the waterfront with welcoming entrances, multi-level open spaces, and strong connections to the existing historic destinations along the waterfront.
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Pine Street Cove Looking North
After detailed study as a part of the master plan, the City has concluded that achieving these goals requires extending the shoreline of Lower Manhattan into the East River to create the space necessary to build flood defense infrastructure. With such limited space along this waterfront and most of the esplanade built on pile-supported structures, a shoreline extension into the East River is needed just to construct the floodwall itself. Beyond space for the floodwall, the City is proposing a shoreline extension that ensures the community is not walled off from the waterfront.

Transforming the Waterfront

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View Looking North Near Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza
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View Looking North at Old Slip
The proposed design will seamlessly integrate flood defense infrastructure into a new multi-level public waterfront open space for all to enjoy. The upper level will protect against coastal storms, with buried floodwalls that double as elevated open spaces with expansive views of the harbor and the city. A waterfront esplanade, designed to safely flood during a coastal storm, brings people close to the water itself and to maritime destinations.
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Normal Weather Conditions Versus Coastal Storm Conditions

The City is prioritizing passive flood defense, which means permanently raising the height of the shoreline to protect the area. Passive measures are needed because this area will eventually face flooding every day due to sea level rise; deploying floodgates every day is not feasible. Further, the Financial District and Seaport’s low-lying topography combined with strong wave action during coastal storms makes relying solely on floodgates less suitable. In select locations, floodgates will accompany the passive flood defense, limiting additional weight over subway tunnels and providing entrances for emergency and maintenance vehicles to reach the shoreline. Absent a coastal storm, these floodgates will be hidden, opening views to the river and providing direct access to the shoreline edge.

The City is also proposing new stormwater infrastructure to keep stormwater from backing up and flooding the area behind the new coastal flood defense infrastructure. A combination of both traditional, or “grey” infrastructure, as well as green infrastructure, will help manage stormwater runoff, limiting the additional stress placed on the sewer system during heavy rain and coastal storm events.

This flood defense system poses a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the waterfront, creating a place that serves New Yorkers better than before.
This waterfront is not a blank slate. The flood defense needs to be integrated into the existing city fabric and continue to support the diverse uses that serve the city and region. Ferry terminals along the waterfront will be redeveloped into new modern facilities with room for future expansion. People will be able to access the waterfront with frequent and inviting entrances designed for universal accessibility. The bike path and waterfront esplanade will be replaced and improved to provide safe and uninterrupted connections between the Brooklyn Bridge and The Battery.

This waterfront will also be designed to help advance the City’s sustainability goals. The new shoreline edge will incorporate opportunities for ecological enhancements, providing new habitats for fish and other aquatic organisms. Nature-based solutions will be woven throughout to help manage stormwater, provide shade, and reduce local summer temperatures. Further, the master plan identifies opportunities to integrate renewable energy as part of any new buildings or structures along the waterfront.