In New York City’s industrial past, waterfronts were industrial zones. New York became America’s largest city by being America’s busiest port. Manhattan’s coastlines were piers and warehouses, for transferring goods between ships; the entire waterfront of Jersey City was railyards where goods would switch between ship and train. Consequently, the land in the middle of Manhattan became the most desirable neighborhoods and the edges the blighted ones.
Today, as shipping no longer drives the region’s economy and spaces for recreation are scarce, waterfront neighborhoods are booming and people naturally want to run or bike along the rivers. In Manhattan, Mayor Bloomberg endorsed extending the existing Hudson River greenway to completely encircle the island two years ago: map (PDF). And in the Bronx, neighborhood groups want to build a greenway along the Bronx River. Check out their map (PDF) and detailed plan (PDF).