5.13.2009

After Walking, A Place to Sit: Greenacre Park, E. 51st

Strolling may be the best way to see New York, but after shopping, walking, or other forms of exertion, it feels great to sit down. Sometimes, while out and about the city, it's absolutely necessary to find a quiet spot to take a time out, make a phone call, or just stare into space. One such place while in the East 50s is Greenacre Park, a beautiful oasis tucked into the north side of E. 51st St. between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. These types of pocket parks in the city, some privately owned public spaces, sometimes function well, but others do not. Greenacre Park, with a 25-foot waterfall, a stand to buy snacks, comfortable movable chairs, and a zen-like design, provides one of the most successful types of spaces in our urban fabric.

From Spring 2009

Built in 1971 by the Greenacre Foundation and designed by Hideo Sasaki and Harmon Goldstone, Greenacre Park was meant to provide a sense of serenity within the city. When I visited yesterday, waiting for a friend who was checking into The Pod Hotel across the street, I spent a few welcome minutes in the park, mostly just sitting and looking at the falling water. About twenty-five to thirty people were there, some sitting alone and others in groups, and while a few were speaking, the sound of the sizable waterfall, the focal point for the park, blanketed the space in an all-embracing hush. The flowers - hydrangeas, azaleas, and peace lilies, among others, provided soothing colors for the eyes. There's not any sort of illusion that one has left the city - the backdrop for the park consists of the nearby Midtown buildings, many of them tall, but the park provides enough of its own interest, largely through additional water features and the cascading ivy, to feel like a momentary escape.

Image by Walking Off the Big Apple. May 12, 2009.

See also the related post, Shhh, Don't Tell: Quiet Modernist Escapes in Midtown Manhattan.

2 comments:

Terry B said...

I love that New Yorkers, most of whom have little to no private outdoor space, make use of every square inch provided publicly. Like this serene little park. I also love that the city gets the need for such spaces and carves them out of every little nook and cranny. One such example is on the Upper West Side along Broadway. The street is a boulevard there, and little plazas with benches have been placed at the cross streets. They are often in use, by people having a coffee or a snack--or just watching the passing parade.

Dan England said...

I love this place. A total oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of NY. Last time in NY I was staying across the road at the Pod Hotel. I used to come over to the park for breakfast and some chill time to start the day.