409 E. 59th St.
I am always amazed at how much New Yorkers care about their city, at least most of the time. Those who have the means often try to contribute to making this place beautiful. The Evangeline Blashfield Fountain is one of these instances. Dedicated in May 1919 in honor of a patron of public space in New York City, this fountain was built to provide water for the vendors at the open-air market that originally stood on the site. In 2002, various patrons and economic agencies combined to restore it to its original beauty.
It sits at the end of the plaza attached to Guastavino’s, a banquet hall that is home to weddings, corporate events and other lush events. When the hall is not engaged, the plaza is open to the public. You must be warned that it is rather loud with its location directly below the 59th Street Bridge. Even so, it is worth a trip to visit this magnificent testimony to a benevolent person and the magnificent fountain created in her honor.
This is the pocket park at the Sovereign Apartments at 425 East 58th near Sutton Place in New York City. It is one block south of the 59th St. Bridge and I have to say it was very loud from the nearby bridge traffic. Still, this will again be a beautiful place once all of the landscaping work is completed.
It seems the entire city is getting ready for the summer season when people stroll more. Some of the parks I've visited previously are now temporarily fenced in with landscapers and stone masons hard at work inside. Let's hope the outcome of all of this industry is a few more comfy respites for those of us who enjoy walking through the city when the weather is nice.
Photograph 2006 by Jacqueline Banerjee
As I write Pocket Parks of NYC, I obviously continue to research other cities for other books. It was during one of these research sessions that I found this cool program sponsored by the Mayor of London. Here’s the blurb from their website: The Pocket Parks Programme is part of the Mayor’s London’s Great Outdoors - the initiative to improve streets, squares, parks, and canal and riverside spaces across London. The Pocket Parks Programme aims to deliver 100 new or enhanced pocket parks across London by March 2015.
Applicants can apply for up to £50,000 to clean up existing spaces that have been poorly maintained or create a green space out of underused space. Projects must be hosted by a London borough. The deadline for the first round of applications has passed, but this is definitely a project to keep on my radar.
The more parks I discover in Manhattan, the more I see the value of maintaining these green spaces and creating new ones. I love cities, but no one can deny it’s wonderful to come upon a little piece of the country in the midst of all of that concrete and steel, traffic noise and crowds.
I can’t wait to explore these spaces when London has finished with them.© 2013 Rosemary O’Brien of Pocket Parks Publishing, LLC
Thank you to Stan O'Connor http://www.oconnorgreentoursnyc.com/
for the use of this video. The waterfall is located behind the McGraw-Hill building located on 6th Avenue and runs behind the building from 48th St. to 49th St. Check out the video to learn more.© 2013 Rosemary O’Brien of Pocket Parks Publishing, LLC
The David Rubenstein Atrium, formerly known as the Harmony Atrium
, was renovated and renamed in 2009 after Rubenstein’s generous $10 million gift to the Bravo Campaign. This lively indoor public space located on Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Street is a welcome respite especially on days when the weather is not cooperating. Here locals and tourists can grab a hot drink or lunch at Chef Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft café
, check email using free wifi, hit the restroom (a very helpful amenity indeed), or enjoy one of the free weekly performances of anything from a big band performance to a poetry slam. All of this takes place next to two vertical gardens, a media wall available for video presentations, and an art installation by Dutch textile artisan Claudy Jongstra. The Atrium is open various hours from 8am to 10pm depending on the day of the week.
© CC 2013 Dmadeo
825 Eighth Avenue
Worldwide Plaza, built on one of the former Madison Square Garden sites, is a large plaza that spans 49th and 50th Streets between 8th and 9th Avenues. It contains stationary seating around a large fountain as well as movable tables and chairs scattered throughout the plaza. There are even two public restrooms by the 8th Ave. entrance in the arcade. You can enter from 49th or 50th, but the effect is definitely not as dramatic. If you enter from 8th Ave., and walk through the circular retail arcade, an expanse of plaza will open up to you at the end of the corridor. The effect is as impressive as it is unexpected.
Completed in 1989 and designed by SWA Group, the plaza lends itself to lingering when the weather is nice. Be advised, though, that the management’s security guards are adamant about public propriety. They will tell visitors to keep their feet off the chairs and warn sunbathers to keep their shirts on if they dare to take them off. In short, play nice, be respectful to the plaza, and no one will get yelled at.
I was dismayed when I read someone spoke badly about New York City’s green spaces in the comments of “Best Cities for Pocket Parks”
. I know it probably comes from a place of ignorance, but I still feel compelled to point out his error and to hope he pays the city another visit.
New York City has over 250 comfortable pocket parks and public spaces, some with waterfalls, seating (tables and chairs as well as bench-type seating), coffee kiosks, etc. Paley Park and Greenacre are the most highlighted, but there are so many more. In fact, there are enough to fill the book I am writing. If you are of the mind that New York City is dirty and not worth a visit because it is filled with grime and a noisy drone, take another look, especially if you have not been here in a while. Below are three parks already on this blog, but they illustrate my point.
Check out Grant Plaza, located on 44th Street between First and Second Avenues. It has a beautiful sculpture (Spirit of Audrey) dedicated to Audrey Hepburn in recognition of her work with children. Or you can head East to Tudor City Greens which runs along First Ave. by 42nd St. It is open to the public unless it is rented out for an event, but people hold wedding receptions amidst the park-like setting high above 42nd Street. And finally, one of my favorites is Grand Central Plaza, 622 Third Ave. at the corner of 40th Street. This one is at the top of a two-story building and sports a coffee kiosk and a nice view of the street below and nearby buildings.
Most people find these urban oases by passing them to or from work, or stumbling upon them when walking around their home neighborhood. I hope the commenter will decide another visit to New York City is warranted. I also hope the visit will alter his opinion in favor of what I think is one of the greatest cities in the world.
Here at the close of the 2012, I find myself making the usual list of goals. One of these goals is to decide on a NYC charity to which to donate a portion of the net earnings for Pocket Parks of NYC. I was introduced to this idea by my first publisher. It was small, and is now closed, but their idea was a good one. They donated a portion of each of my first novel, FIRST SATURDAY, to the charity of my choice. Since my book touched on teen suicide, I chose a charity that kept teens busy after school with fun and educational activities.
Alas, that charity, too, is no longer in existence, but I still think it’s a good idea. This time, however, I will choose a well-run organization that has longevity and a proven track record. I was much less educated about such things back in 2002, but after working with a few non-profits since then, I feel better equipped to choose a charity. The thing is I would rather not do it alone.
If you know of a deserving charity involved in making New York City pocket parks more productive or greener or whatever you think the qualification should be, please email me, preferably with a link included. Tell me why. I am open to all ideas.
In the meantime, my wish for you is a healthy and prosperous 2013. May all your wishes come true.
Happy New Year!
I realize this isn't about pocket parks, but sometimes events eclipse personal projects. Please pass this on.
Every child is different as is every soul that was lost that day. If Girl and Boy Scouts, schools or even individual families send some snowflakes to stick on walls, hang on windows or otherwise decorate the temporary school housing the students, it will let them know we are thinking of them and supporting them in their grief. I will make paper snowflakes and some Gallery Glass clings for the windows. Won't you participate? Info below. Thank you for helping spread the word.
FROM CT PTSA:
Connecticut PTSA is deeply saddened by the tragedy that has struck our Newtown community. We have met with the PTA and community leaders in Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary to offer our assistance at this very difficult time. They have asked us to spearhead the following efforts on their behalf:
Snowflakes for Sandy Hook
Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Get Creative!! Make and send snowflakes to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514, by January 12, 2013.
Just in case any of my readers are interested in the process, I had to stop earlier than I did during the spring and summer due to the shortened days. I was amazed when I looked at my watch and it was only 3:00! Before the change back to Standard Time, I usually wrapped things up closer to 6pm. The good news is that I discovered four new parks that were not on my list.
One of the parks that was on my list was the indoor public space, 575 Fifth Avenue. The entrance to the space is on 47th St. just east of 5th Avenue. It’s a wonder I never saw this, but it is understandable. The outside is deceptive, looking like the usual shops and department stores. When you enter on 47th St., however, you discover a large space that ascends four stories high. The most important space for my purposes is the well-lit entry level where tables and chairs are scattered. Public restrooms are located on the main and the second floors, a welcome site for those of us who visit, but do not live or have an office in the city. Built in 1983, the space has not been fully realized as the retail space the developers intended, but it is still an excellent place to stop off if you need a rest, especially on a rainy day.