Paley Park, on 53rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, is one of those quintessential New York City pocket parks. It is located right on the street so that passersby can look in, notice it and be persuaded to stop for a moment. If the seating and lush ivy walls do not draw them in, the waterfall at the back of the space should do it. By the way, the waterfall is backlit in the evening.
Completed in 1967, Paley Park was built and paid for by William S. Paley, former Chairman of CBS and is featured in the film, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, by William H. Whyte. Mr. Paley was involved in every aspect of the planning of the park. Zion and Breene Associates designed this 4200 sq. ft. park slightly above street level, but the sidewalk blends into the park making it a seamless transition from the Manhattan street to the tranquil park. Not to say this place is quiet. It definitely is not, but the sound comes from the 1800 gallons per minute of water from the waterfall. This white noise drowns out the city sounds beyond the entrance. It is must more pleasing to listen to than the cabs and the traffic noise just outside the iron gates of the entrance.
If you go:
Check out the restoration of the stained glass windows at St. Thomas Episcopal Church just a block west on 53rd St. and 5th Ave.