Van Der Donck Park – Daylighting the Saw Mill River

Van Der Donck Park – Daylighting the Saw Mill River

City of Yonkers, New York

For almost 100 years the Saw Mill River was buried beneath the streets of Yonkers. This unique urban park project replaced two blocks of parking lot with a linear greenspace focused around this re-opened watercourse. Van Der Donck Park reconnects the community to its historic roots, providing a catalyst for economic development, by linking the downtown to the Hudson River waterfront esplanade. The park provides restored river habitat and provides a wonderful centerpiece to the downtown.

Design of the daylighted river created distinct riparian habitats comprised of a brackish tidal pool and up-river freshwater riffles defined by rock weirs and sloping riverbanks. River corridor engineering recreated the previous river cross-section to protect the park from flash flooding. The elevation difference between the adjacent streets and the river allows for pedestrian and ADA access to the water’s edge.  At street level, a combination of sinuous sidewalks and curbs, bermed landforms and planting beds visually transition the urban streetscape to the more naturalized river edge.

The daylighted Saw Mill River provided unique design opportunities for pathways, seating, overlooks, public gathering plazas, and a pedestrian bridge. It provides a magnificent setting for the businesses located along its edge.