This is my favorite time of year in New York City. The buds are starting to come in on the trees, the crocuses and daffodils are popping up after their long winter’s nap, and the sun comes out more often than not to add to the warm, spring temperatures. My advice to anyone new to the city is to set out on foot to an area you’ve never visited. If you’re not that adventurous or you feel unsure of an area, head to Central Park. You will find tons of tourists there on a nice day, but if you head uptown a little on the East- or the Westside, you will discover the locals. Take a moment to sit on one of the many benches up near the Armory on Fifth Avenue or on the Eastside, find a seat near the 72nd Street Transverse and people watch or better yet, head into the park from that entrance and enjoy a picnic or some time with a good book if it’s a nice day outside.
Central Park, while not a pocket park by any means, is one of my favorite places. During summer weekends, you can walk from hill to hill and find a different activity in each section. My husband and I once walked to meet my brother and listen to a guitarist, but before we found him, we watched a roller skating club skate to someone’s playlist, a kid’s craft event, a small informational event for organic foods, and a quiet area where people were reading and napping on their blankets.
Enjoy the park during this time of new life (dare I say it?) after winter’s exit.
New York City public gardens are yet another thing that makes me love New York City. I discovered them when I was researching my book, BEST Pocket Parks of NYC, and had the idea to include them in my book. I decided against it after discovering Grace Tankersley’s book, Community Gardens of the East Village. She listed 39 gardens in the East Village alone and then told me there are probably hundreds throughout Greenwich Village alone. With over 530 POPS to explore already, I figured I would leave the gardens to her. Finding her book, however, put these little public gardens on my radar.
In December 2015, 596 Acres , a group dedicated to preserving and protecting public gardens in New York City, announced that gardens slated for development by New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) had been transferred New York City Parks Department to be officially preserved as public gardens. That’s 36 gardens with 27 of them in Brooklyn alone!
While I encourage you to pick up my book and explore the NYC POPS this spring, I think a great companion would be Tankersley’s book or use this online map to find your favorite public gardens in
New York City.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Downtown Alliance have opened a new park a few blocks from the 9/11 Memorial on the corner of Greenwich and Albany Streets. Here it is from the horse’s (or Downtown Alliance’s) mouth:
The public space, located at Albany and Greenwich streets, is open seven days a week from 8 am until dusk. The plaza includes park furniture and plantings as well as shuffleboard, cornhole and mini golf games. A new table tennis is free and available for visitors to use during the plaza’s open hours.
- Downtown Alliance
No photos because I was not there, but I had to share. I can’t wait to visit!
Manhattan Plaza Park is a shady pocket park on 43rd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues in New York City. Its wooden benches and comfortable seating ledges make it a nice place to stop on a warm day. Built in 1977, this pocket park was originally going to be luxury apartments until the developer went bankrupt. Thanks to the work of Reverend Rodney Kirk, an Episcopal minister, the building became a residence for those who needed help caring for themselves during the AIDS crisis, but now runs as a retirement residence for the performing arts community.
This building must be a pretty good place to live because it has a six-year waiting list due to its income scale-based rent plan.
For more information on this and any of the other pocket parks in New York City, order your copy of BEST Pocket Parks of NYC by clicking on the photo or visiting Amazon.com. Thank you!
1886 Broadway in New York City is just East of Broadway on 63rd Street and just past the entrance to Lincoln Plaza Cinema on Broadway between 62nd and 63rd. It is a large space that when looked at from above, seems to be enveloped in a hug by the building that owns it. Filled with lots of foliage and a waterfall in the center, there is seating scattered throughout the space, though not a ton. Most lunchtime visitors find a spot on the wide ledge by the street. Even near the street, the sound of the waterfall in this pocket park masks much of the city noise. Someone once said it almost looks as a if a little corner of Central Park (despite the waterfall) has jumped over a few buildings and landed near Lincoln Center.
The Elevated Acre at 55 Water Street is another oasis in New York and one of the Financial District’s best kept secrets. When you get to the top of the stairs (or escalator), you are treated to a broad carpet of lawn, seating and an expansive view of the shore of Brooklyn. Visitors to yelp.com have mentioned free popcorn, but they were not serving it when I was there, so I can’t vouch for that. All I can say is the view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River is amazing, and the lawn is a lovely place to kick back and relax on a sunny day or during their summer movie nights.
Visit my friends at Untapped Cities for more history behind The Elevated Acre and Mario Burger International Photography for some great photos of NYC.
No, this is NOT an April Fool's prank! The Kindle ebook version of BEST Pocket Parks of NYC is available for FREE today on Amazon.com. Help boost those rankings by downloading your Kindle copy today. Here's how it goes:
1. Download your FREE Kindle copy of BEST Pocket Parks of NYC
through midnight Pacific time tonight,
2. Leave a review on Amazon.com (hopefully a glowing review),
3. Tell all of your friends who may visit New York City about
BEST Pocket Parks of NYC.
1166 Avenue of the Americas passes between 45th & 46th Streets. The neighborhood known as Little Brazil flanks it on the 46th Street side between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It is noted by a small sign on Fifth and 46th, but you would realize where you are even if you did not see the sign. Several of the businesses on 46th broadcast their Brazilian ties by decorating their storefronts with the Brazilian flag.
This park is always filled with people when I pass. It’s peaceful and one of those comfortable, well-planned parks with many levels. Both built-in benches and moveable tables and chairs are scattered throughout the space, and there are a number of plantings and trees throughout. On the 45th Street side, there is a sculpture that seems to be floating in the pool of the fountain. Throwback (1976-1979) is an abstract sculpture made from black aluminum and created by Tony Smith. The 46th Street side features a Memorial to the souls from March & McLennan who were lost on 9/11. The inscription can be found at http://memorial.mmc.com/
The next stop was nearby Chatham Square. Kimlau Memorial Arch was erected in 1962 to honor LT Benjamin Ralph Kimlau, a World War II hero of Chinese decent, but the square, Chatham Square, has been there forever and previously hosted the site of the Second and Third Avenue Elevated Lines before their demolition in the mid-20th century. It is a short distance from there to Columbus Park. Though it isn’t a pocket park, I had to take my son there to enjoy the Asian musicians, impromptu singers and Mahjong games. It was a hive of activity as we stopped to listen and took a few pictures of our new-found obsession: Bubble Tea.
The schlepp to Bennett Park about ten blocks away was worth my son’s reaction to the Helix, a sculpture by Rudolph de Harak erected in 1969. It is a series of one-inch stainless steel strips fashioned into a helix that fascinated my future engineer. This was where I discovered what a wonderful photographer he is. I handed over the camera and he became my official photographer for the rest of the day.
New York City is a vibrant culture populated by pocket parks. It is a guide I was privileged to write and an experience I was privileged to share with my son if only for one day.
Thank you to Seeking Sanctuary at world's End blog for the lovely post about the book.
When I was a young actress in New York City, I frequently ducked into a pocket park in between work or auditions. I have always loved the concept of public space, little more than the space between buildings sometimes, with seating, greenery and the occasional waterfall or art installation. It took me three years of research and site visits to find, photograph and catalogue the pocket parks and public spaces that would be included in my guide, BEST Pocket Parks of NYC. On one of my site visits, I took my then 12-year-old son with me. It was an excellent decision that led to a day of discovery.
We headed into Manhattan on Metro North. Our first stop was actually an indoor pocket park located directly across the street from Grand Central Terminal. In fact, the Philip Morris Atrium was the first pocket park I ever visited when a friend took me there during my first weeks in the city. I was gratified to see that my son was as in awe as I was many years ago. We entered on the Park Avenue side right past 42nd Street where you get the best view of the space from the top of the stairs. He loved the built-in granite seating and four stories of glass on two sides, and thought the sculptures and art were interesting. They, in fact, are rotated in from the Whitney Museum’s permanent collection.
Next, we took the subway to Chinatown to grab an early lunch before the crowds. Jing Fong Restaurant at 20 Elizabeth Street is a favorite restaurant of my family. It’s a large banquet room at the top of an escalator and serves the best dumplings. Our entire family has stuffed ourselves there for under $35. The servers come around with steam carts from which you pick your favorites. We don’t always know what we’re eating, but we choose and take our chances and it is always delicious.
Next I'll take you downtown into Chinatown and the Wall Street area.