The Waterfront Alliance
inspires and effects
resilient, revitalized, and accessible coastlines
for all communities.
The Waterfront Alliance began as a project of The Municipal Art Society of New York. It became an independent organization in 2007 when a group of leading activists, businesses, foundations, and civic organizations came together with the goal of making the New York and New Jersey harbor a shared, resilient, and accessible resource for all. Since then, the Waterfront Alliance has grown into a coalition of more than 1,100 organizations working together to bring about real change to our region’s waterways and 700 miles of shoreline.
New York Harbor and the surrounding waterways should be a shared resource for all. Our coastal communities must resolutely prepare for the reality of sea level rise and be prepared for the next big storm. Adapting to this new reality, we will create healthy, resilient, accessible, and equitable waterways that are alive with commerce and recreation, and exciting waterfront destinations that reflect the vitality and diversity of the communities that surround them.
What We Do
After more than a decade of leading the charge in how the New York metropolitan region views and uses its harbor, and with more than 1,000 Alliance Partners committed to bringing real change to our region’s 700+ miles of coastline, in 2019 the Waterfront Alliance stepped into a new and critical leadership role to define New York Harbor’s response to sea level rise and coastal storms. Our crucial, long-term focus on increasing waterfront accessibility for all, along with our efforts to advocate for a working waterfront that is a vital source of business activity and well-paying jobs and educating the next generation of waterfront stewards, continue as essential pillars of our work to create a well-adapted and resilient New York Harbor.
We convene both the Resilience Task Force and Public Access for All Task Force, bringing together 500+ leaders to discuss resources needed to expand climate adaptation, as well as developments that prioritize access to the waterfront.
30 Community boards, in New York City, across all five boroughs, take our WEDG® Pledge calling for resilience, access, and ecology in new waterfront construction.
We host an offshore wind forum that brings together 150+ industry experts to discuss the activation of offshore wind in the New York Harbor.
We open Brooklyn Bridge Beach to the public for new educational ventures, including City of Water Day and Climate Science On The Sand.
WEDG® is awarded the American Planning Association’s Gold National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice.
We introduce legislation for the first Mayor’s Office of the Waterfront.
We release nationally applicable Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines and create our first out of region partnership in Camden/Philadelphia.
We create our second Maritime Activation Plan, this one for Governors Island.
We launch our newest educational program called Estuary Explorers that in its first season provides hands-on science education to more than 700 middle school students and their teachers.
We launch New York City's first Harbor Scorecard on the steps of City Hall—a groundbreaking tool that offers a neighborhood-by-neighborhood assessment of waterfront access, water quality, and coastal flood risk.
Two new projects are WEDG-certified: Starlight Park in the Bronx and Greenpoint Landing in Brooklyn, bringing our total to seven WEDG-certified projects to date.
We create our first Maritime Activation Plan for Brooklyn Bridge Park, to help them better utilize and integrate their 1.3 miles of shoreline.
We celebrate our 10th anniversary in October with our annual Heroes of the Harbor gala, attended by nearly 500 guests.
The Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines (WEDG) program receives the Leadership Award at the World Canals Conference in Inverness, Scotland.
Aloha, Hōkūle‘a! The Polynesian voyaging canoe stops in New York City on her worldwide voyage, with many of her activities taking place at the Community Eco Dock at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, Queens.
Harbor Camp has provided free educational on-water and waterfront educational programs to 20,000 since its inception and is celebrated at the annual Heroes of the Harbor Award Dinner and Parade of Boats.
We announce our new name: Waterfront Alliance.
We release the report Climate Change Accounting: What Is the Cost? at the Waterfront Conference, with a call to action for a presidential commission to address the region’s flood risk after Hurricane Sandy.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announces five-borough ferry service for New York City to launch in 2017, one of the biggest victories for the Waterfront Alliance after years of advocacy.
Version 1.0 of the Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines (WEDG) debuts at a standing-room-only event at the AIA Center for Architecture, followed by a month-long exhibit.
More than 25,000 people attend the City of Water Day festival at Governors Island, New York; Maxwell Place Park, Hoboken, New Jersey; and 35 In Your Neighborhood locations.
We work with NYS Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and local partners Long Island City Community Boathouse and HarborLAB to open the Gantry Plaza State Park Community Eco Dock.
The Waterfront Conference features a New York City mayoral forum with all major candidates, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, and former Comptroller William Thompson sharing their visions for the waterfront.
We join NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, local elected leaders, and community groups to celebrate the opening of the Bay Ridge Community Eco Dock for human-powered boating and environmental education.
We ask all candidates for public office in New York City to put their commitment to the future of our waterfront on the record. We publish responses from more than 40 candidates across the five boroughs, and 22 eventual winners. Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and others endorse the Waterfront Platform for New York City.
Harbor Camp reaches more than 9,000 children served.
We and our partners in the Harbor Coalition propose the federal Harbor Act as a way to bring more federal waterfront funds to the region.
Roland Lewis presides as chair of the 4th annual Urban Waterfronts Conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
More than 650 people attend the Waterfront Conference, and the New York-New Jersey Harbor Coalition publicly launches.
The third Community Eco Dock is funded—this time in Manhattan, at Dyckman Marina in Inwood.
More than 660 organizations are now Alliance Partners.
Ongoing work with New York City leads to the first New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan in 18 years.
The second Community Eco Dock gets its funding—this one for Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The first phase of five-borough ferry service begins with the launch of East River Ferry service.
City of Water Day festival goes harbor-wide with six In Your Neighborhood sites.
Mini conference, the 2011 Floating Follow-up, attracts more than 400 participants and four U.S. congressional representatives.
For the first time, the public is able to view the Parade of Boats at Hudson River Park during the Heroes of the Harbor Award Dinner.
We release the report Improving Waterfront Permitting in the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Estuary, with 26 recommendations for waterfront permitting reform.
The first Community Eco Dock is funded; it’s at the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
The Harbor Coalition is formed to bring significant federal funds to New York Harbor.
Our Alliance Partners now include more than 450 organizations.
More than 600 people attend the Waterfront Conference, where the State of the Waterfront report is released.
Task Force meetings contribute ideas to New York City’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan to open up and improve all 520 miles of New York’s waterfront.
Working with the New York City Council, we draft and champion legislation to reinstate the Waterfront Management Advisory Board, leading to the first update of New York City’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan in 18 years.
Some 500 leaders attend the Waterfront Conference, where our policy platform, the Waterfront Action Agenda, and six detailed waterfront policy white papers are presented.
The first Heroes of the Harbor Award Dinner and Parade of Boats is held at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers.
The (Metropolitan) Waterfront Alliance becomes an independent organization, after being launched as a project of The Municipal Art Society of New York.