October 16, 2015

Scenes from Bryant Park in Mid-October

(Updated for October 2016) How splendid is Bryant Park on a sunny autumn day before the advent of the holiday season? Very splendid.


Even while workers plow through the park's summertime lawn to make space for the Winter Village, visitors carry on with everyday things at the periphery. We're in New York's poignant seasonal interregnum, the time when the green city of summer gives way to autumn and the holidays. For the last two weeks in October, a good place to witness the change is here in Bryant Park.


Whatever construction noise made by the park workers and their plows tends to crossfade in the larger ambient chatter and traffic. For some reason, calm and quiet may be found here. Many New Yorkers come to Bryant Park to read, and not just because the park functions like the back lawn of the Main Branch of the New York Public Library.


To understand why the park works so well as a public space, notice what's happening throughout the periphery. Let's circumambulate the park.


Nature is key. Look at these tall trees with light bark and the beds of dark ivy underneath. Look at the urns that overflow with cascading chartreuse potato vines, pink begonias, frilly coleus, and boisterous elephant ears.  The effect is soothing. Researchers at the University of Illinois believe that spending time in nature boosts the body's immune system. (source)


Park planners have incorporated several other elements in Bryant Park proven to enhance the success of a public space - the availability of food and drink, water features, multiple uses of the space (including a bocce ball court, a carousel that plays Edith Piaf, artwork, a lending library, and soon, an ice rink with holiday drinks and shopping), and perhaps the best secret ingredient of all, moveable chairs. With chairs to move around, you can sit in any configuration you like.


Bryant Park sponsors a full calendar of events. Winter Village reopens October 29. Website 




Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from October 12, 2015. Click to enlarge.

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