3.22.2010

At Petrosino Square

SoHo and Nolita make great neighborhoods for strolling, shopping and dining, but it's often hard to find a good place to sit down. Examining the map of the streets south of Houston and north of Canal, only one little area seems convenient - a small park called Petrosino Square at the meeting of Kenmare, Lafayette, and Cleveland Place. Formally opened on October 13, 2009 and now in its final stage of expansion and restoration, a plan that included rebuilding of the original brick columns, the addition of bike racks, plantings, and most conveniently, the placement of several new benches, the square has become the perfect place to stop after exploring the nearby bustling streets. According to the NY Parks announcement last October, the $2 million reconstruction was funded entirely by New York City Council Member Alan Gerson.


View At Petrosino Square in a larger map

The location of Petrosino Square at the crossroads of an older but newly fashionable area of the city optimizes its potential as a gathering place. Surrounded by many popular restaurants, including La Esquina, Ed's Lobster Bar, and Spring Street Natural, and proximate to several French cafes - Balthazar, for example, the park actually sits at the confluence of several historic neighborhoods - Little Italy, the Bowery and an expanding Chinatown. La Esquina contributes reliable Mexican food to the ethnic mix, and its walk-up window (a wonderful feature for anyone out strolling with a dog) allows the pleasure of informal take-out dining in the park. Many coffee carts are nearby, too, especially on the weekdays. It's like a pint-size Times Square, but with far less tourists.




The Italian heritage is recognized in the name of the park, named for the crime-fighting Italian-American policeman, Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino (1860-1909), who died in the line of duty while on assignment to Palermo, Sicily. The square sits a block north of the former police headquarters, an impressive ornate Renaissance Revival building from 1905-1909, at 240 Centre Street. Petrosino Square, in addition to being a nice place to stop, also serves as an excellent starting point for urban explorations north south, east, and west.

Images of Petrosino Square (looking south - see the old Police Headquarters in the distance on the left) and La Esquina by Walking Off the Big Apple.

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