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Little Island, 2.4-Acre Manhattan Park, To Open Friday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Big Apple has a new public park.

Little Island at 13th Street in Hudson River Park opens Friday.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, it aims to make art more accessible to all with mostly free programming for kids and adults.

Construction is complete.

"There's a sort of choose-your-own-adventure aspect to this," producer Julia Kraus said.

Little Island
(Photo: CBS2)

You can take in a performance in the amphitheater, with the Hudson River as a backdrop. There are 687 seats plus standing room.

"We've got music theater, lots of dance, comedy, you name it," Kraus said. "Folks are really going to see how the sausage is made. Rehearsals, tech rehearsals are going to be out in the open."

"Watch art in the making, in the doing, and I'm really excited to share my process," artist in residence Tina Landau said. "I am doing three events ... An evening of young up and coming songwriters that I'll be hosting with Sarah Bareilles. The third one will be a celebration of trans artists."

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Over in a smaller pocket of the park, there's The Glade.

"We'll have 11 a.m. workshops that we call 'Creative Breaks Music/Dance Theater' here. Make a sketchbook with a Little Island teaching artist. Everybody deserves to have a connection to art and nature in a public place," said Michael Wiggin, the director of engagement and education.

At the Southwest Lookout, you can't beat the view.

And what's a park without landscaping? Architect Signe Nielsen said Little Island will have 114 trees, around 500 shrubs, 27,000 perennials and grasses, and 66,000 bulbs.

"My fingers are crossed for hummingbirds in August," Nielsen said. "There are parts of the park that really smell good."

Feeling hungry? Little Island has beers from every borough and Brooklyn coffee.

As for what the concrete structures that support Little Island are called, Gainer heard all kinds of descriptions. But they're not pods. They're referred to as tulips.

"No two are the same. There are 132 of them," executive director Trish Santini said. "These petals were fabricated upstate, and then taken to another location along the Hudson River to put all the petals together to make the tulips, and then into a barge and floated down the Hudson River to get to us."

With an emphasis on access, art, engagement and education, this may not be your typical walk in the park, but it's OK if you just want to do that, too.

Most events are free or low cost. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Admission is free, but there are timed reservations required from noon until 8 p.m.

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