North River Water Pollution Control Plant / Riverbank State Park

Riverside Drive between West 138th and 145th Streets
Tippets-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton / Richard Dattner & Associates

Proposed by the city in 1962, the North River Water Pollution Control Plant was operational by 1986 and began conducting a secondary level of sewage treatment in 1991. One of the country’s most expensive non-military public works projects at the time, the plant removes pollutants for the wastewater of the entirety of Manhattan’s West Side. In 1968, after learning of the plant’s proposed location, West Harlem residents formed two community groups (the West Harlem – North River Environmental Review Board and West Harlem Environmental Action), and became heavily involved in the design process for Riverbank State Park, which was proposed to mitigate the plant’s impact. The partnership between the community, city, state and architecture firm of Richard Dattner & Associates ultimately resulted in a 28- acre park with a skating rink, swimming pool, outdoor amphitheater, restaurant and numerous athletic facilities, which draw millions of visitors each year. Due to the limited load bearing capacity of the plant below, the park’s five buildings are of steel frame construction with metal panels and brick façade tiles.