Hudson River Park, which spans the West Side of Manhattan from Chambers St. to 59th St., has been working to bring the oyster population back to the river since the Park was first constructed.
The river was once full of oysters — which not only provided food (yes, they were once a favored New York food, sold on street stands and saloons directly from the river, with millions of them exported across the U.S.!) — but also copious environmental benefits like cleaning & filtering water, plus their habitat-building nature can help protect the shorelines during extreme weather.
Sadly, due to overharvesting and water pollution, there are now hardly any to be found.
But, the Park, along with outside organizations like the Billion Oyster Project, is working to repair that damage. As shared with the New York Times, 11.2 million oysters had been deposited in the river as of January 2022, and millions more are now being added to Gansevoort Peninsula!
The “juvenile oysters” are seeded into reef balls and gabions to be dropped into the river. In addition to creating a habitat for various marine life, the growing oysters will protect the Gansevoort’s northern shoreline from erosion and flooding, along with the soon-to-be planted salt marsh.
The Billion Oyster Project hopes to continue until they reach their namesake goal: 1 billion oysters in New York Harbor in 2035.
Slowly but surely, the river’s health has been improving in recent years, which can be seen in some wild oysters that have been discovered off the West Side of Manhattan and in the Bronx. One, nick-named “Big,” is thought to be the biggest oyster found in New York Harbor in over 100 years.
Perhaps, in another hundred years, New Yorkers will once again be be slurping on oysters from the Hudson!
If you want to learn more, you can stop by the researchers’ free aquarium at Pier 40.