Skip to main content

A Walk in Battery Park City's North End, and a New Arcade

Battery Park City, stretching along the shore on the city's far southwestern side, may be tidy, clean, slick, and contemporary, but as a whole, the city built on landfill is not a warm and fuzzy place. Rather isolated from the rest of the New York universe by the wide West Street, the uniform residential towers and landscaped gardens of Battery Park City present themselves as a sort of quiet corporate suburb. While the views along the river here open up thrilling vistas, there's not a ton of excitement on the city's streets. So when popular restaurants choose to locate here, a major hotel opens with a collection of stunning contemporary art, and a fetching arcade attracts pedestrians and the illusion of street life, it's worth a walk to check it out.

On Vesey Street, looking north into the arcade

This suggested self-guided walk, the sort always improved by personal variations, begins near the E train stop on Church Street, continues west along the makeshift passageway of Vesey Street next to the World Trade Center site, and then over West Street via the pedestrian bridge. Once back at street level, you'll see an entrance to the World Financial Center on the left, just past the American Express offices. Across the street, on the north side, Goldman Sachs has its offices. As reported in Michael Kimmelman's review in The New York Times, the financial giant commissioned Harvard architecture professor Preston Scott Cohen to design a canopy to cover a passageway on the west side of its building. Kimmelman describes the resulting light-filled arcade (as shown above and below) "as inspired as the nave of a great Gothic cathedral." (See "A Canopy as Social Cathedral," The New York Times, June 4, 2012.) Well, that's high praise indeed.

North side of arcade on Murray Street, looking south.
Shake Shack is on the right.
In addition to walking, bicycling is a good way to visit Battery Park City 

Eateries in the arcade include Shake Shack, Francois Payard Bakery, Pick A Bagel, and Harry's Italian Pizza Bar. Outdoor tables provide a sense of street life, encouraging more people to congregate in the passageway. A Regal Cinema is here also. Around the corner, Blue Smoke, the popular barbecue restaurant, has opened a location. Yes, it feels like the making for a bustling New York street, but please don't confuse this place for a real street. The arcade, while operated as a public space, is nevertheless under the control of a corporate entity, and you will be reminded of this should you try to take a photograph in the middle of the arcade. Snapping pix of the passageway at either end is perfectly fine, as you'll be on city streets, but not in the middle. (Security personnel also frequently intervene in picture-taking at several of the city's other privately own public spaces.) Oh, well. On a nice day, it's easy enough to order lunch to go and then wander over to a park bench next to the river. But when it's raining, it's more pleasant to sit in the arcade.

The nearby pier makes it convenient to travel from Battery Park to other parts of the city.

The arcade also offers an entrance to the new Conrad New York. The former Embassy Suites has been totally made over into a futuristic suite hotel of tomorrow. Wander into the hotel lobby to gawk at the jaw-dropping 13-story Sol LeWitt tapestry art in the dizzying atrium, Loopy Doopy Blue and Purple (1999), and the equally enormous tubular sculpture by Monica Ponce De Leon titled Veils. The hotel's impressive contemporary art collection continues into the guest rooms, lobby spaces, the minimalist first floor bar, and the rooftop bar named after the LeWitt tapestry.

After leaving the arcade, a walk in Battery Park City's North End could include a stop at the terrace overlooking the neighborhood ball park, followed by a stroll through Teardrop Park, a visit to Poets House, a look at the local branch of the NYPL, and then a walk along the river.

Teardrop Park, Battery Park City


New York Public Library branch, Battery Park City

Le Pain Quotidien, at the corner of River Terrace and Vesey Street, includes an outdoor seating area tucked into a well-designed mini arcade. Across the way from the cafe on the south side of the street is the Irish Hunger Memorial, a moving memorial topped with natural features from the landscape in western Ireland. From there, it's easy enough to continue walking south to the North Cove to look at boats, or head back into town on Vesey and cross back over the great divide known as West Street.

Le Pain Quotidien, corner River Terrace and Vesey Street



View Wanderings in Battery Park City, the North End in a larger map

Resources:
website for Conrad New York

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from June 13, 2012.









Popular posts from this blog

North Towards Autumn: A Day Trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line

The peak of autumn colors in New York City tends to fall sometime in the days following Halloween, but those anxiously waiting leaf change can simply travel north.  Near Beacon, a view of autumn colors from the Metro-North Hudson line One way to speed the fall season is to take the Hudson line of Metro-North north of the city and watch the greens fade to oranges and yellows and the occasional burst of red.  Autumn light in Hastings-on-Hudson Weekends during the month of October are ideal times to make the trip. The air tends to be crisp with bright blue skies, and the Hudson River glimmers like a mirror in the light of autumn. As the Hudson line hugs the river for much of the distance north, the train ride alone provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Try to grab a window seat on the river side of the train car for views of the Palisades and the bends of the Hudson Highlands later in the trip.   Autumn leaves on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Hastings Still, October is a gr

Early Voting in Washington Heights, and A Walk

Early voting for the 2020 federal election in New York began on Saturday, October 24 and continues through Sunday, November 1. The weekend was overcast and autumnal, with the bright yellows of fall on display. In New York City, thousands of New Yorkers turned out at the 88 early voting locations and waited in long lines, many stretching around the block.  A line to vote in Washington Heights. The line stretched around the block multiple times. Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn were two of the well-known sites, but most voting places were typical neighborhood places such as schools, churches, and hospitals.   The scene outside the entrance to the Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, one of the early voting locations in Washington Heights. In Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, two early voting locations were within a short walk of one another, causing some confusion for voters emerging from the 168th Street subway station. The Columbia Universit

The Lonesome Metropolis: A Walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center

As New York City reopens, why do the attractions of the great metropolis still look mostly deserted on a summer morning? A morning walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center sought to address this question. As it turns out, there are several adequate explanations. But for what happens next, there are no right answers. Grand Central Terminal, 9:40 am. Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Many neighborhoods outside of tourist New York are still buzzing along. While some residents of wealthier neighborhoods have largely decamped to mountain cabins, beach houses, and other second homes, the less wealthy have nowhere to go and may still be working. Just visit Washington Heights or Corona or Flatbush, and you’ll see sidewalks full of shoppers and summer evening street partiers. Those who fled the city remain only a fraction of the total population.   Grand Central Terminal, 9:40 am. Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Other renowned parts of the city such as City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge have been fr

The Season of Owls

 A walk in Inwood Hill Park. The days following the holidays and the first of the year make a good time to check in on life in the winter forest. I have a forest just down the street from me in Inwood Hill Park in Northern Manhattan. There, a vast old growth forest still stands. A Barred Owl faces the setting sun in Inwood Hill Park in Northern Manhattan. A few weeks ago, someone on a local Facebook page posted a snapshot of a Barred Owl, and I was keen to go looking for it in the park. I didn't find the owl on the first day, but the next day I saw it. A handful of birder enthusiasts were already on the scene and kindly pointed it out high up in the pines. What a beautiful creature!  A stand of White Pines provides the habitat for the Barred Owl. The owl is in this picture. I know, hard to see.  Since my first owl visit, everyday life during the otherwise dreary post-holiday doldrums has taken on a finer aura. I have returned several times, each taking a different path up to the o

The City Turned Inside Out: A Walk from Battery Park to Fulton Street

While the cast of HAMILTON sings “The World Turned Upside Down,” New Yorkers could easily hum along to “The City Turned Inside Out” this summer. (not a real song) Where once a city’s important work took place indoors - within the soaring office buildings, famous restaurants, legendary museums, and storied performance halls, the COVID-19 epidemic has literally turned the residents outdoors.  New landscaping in Battery Park At least it’s summer in the city, when spending time outdoors is common and pleasant enough. Still, the city remains strange this summer of 2020.  Shade plants like hosta thrive in Battery Park. The Statue of Liberty is in the distance. With the absence of tourists, and with office workers connecting virtually from home, many of the city’s main attractions aren’t attracting many visitors. A walk from the Battery to Fulton Street on a pleasant Thursday afternoon bore this out.  Statue Cruises is still sailing. It’s uplifting to at least find plants that are alive and

NYC Re-openings and Travel Advice

What will open, and how will you get there? This list will be updated following official announcements. UPDATED October 10, 2020.  Many favorite local destinations have now reopened.  Hand sanitizer dispenser at the Marble Hill station of Metro-North's Hudson line Openings  - General Information and Popular Destinations    • Restaurants: Consult this NYC Department of Transportation map  (updated link) for restaurants currently open in NYC. Starting September 30, NYC allowed indoor dining at 25% capacity. • As of September 25, outdoor dining in NYC has been extended FOREVER. • The  9/11 Memorial  reopened on Saturday, July 4. Visitors must wear masks and keep social distancing practices. • (update) Libraries: NYPL. T he library will allow a grab-and-go service at 50 locations.   • Governors Island reopened July 15 with advance reserved tickets.  • The High Line  reopened on July 16, with several rules and limitations in place, including timed entry passes - available July 9. Entra

MoMA in Masks

Update. Beginning September 28, MoMA will require all members to reserve tickets in advance.* Walking into the gallery devoted to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (c 1920) at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on Saturday afternoon, I saw a woman seated on a bench. She was looking at the artist’s dreamy depiction of his garden at Giverny, and I thought for a moment she might be dreaming as well. As she was the only person occupying what is usually a packed room for fans of Impressionism, I was hesitant to invade her private garden reveries. At MoMA I would enjoy my own such private moments with my favorite MoMA works that afternoon, including Marc Chagall’s I and the Village (1911). The painting depicts a colorful and geometric fairy tale of peasants and animals, memories of the artist’s childhood home outside Vitebsk. And I had a long time to feel the scorching sun of photographer Dorothea Lange’s Woman of the High Plains, Texas Panhandle (1938), a setting closer to my hometown. Later I wou

An Early Autumn Walk in Central Park: 2020 Edition

This week, the singer Diana Krall released a cover of “Autumn in New York,” the standard by Vernon Duke. An accompanying video , filmed in New York by Davis McCutcheon and directed by Mark Seliger, portrays the city in moody yet beautiful black and white tones. Beyond the lack of autumn colors, the film shows the empty streets of the pandemic city. The mood riffs on the underlying melancholy of the song’s lyrics, that the fall season “is often mingled with pain.” Approaching The Mall in Central Park  When I think of autumn in New York, I automatically imagine walking in Central Park in the vivid colors of the season. The images here, from a meandering one-mile stroll this past Saturday, show only a hint of autumnal glory but reflect more conventional representations of both the season and the song. Yet, walking in Central Park at the beginning of autumn is tinged for me with a hint of sadness, or truthfully, with some anxiety about the coming months. The Mall in Central Park I hadn’t v

Walking It Off: Coping with Holiday Stress During the Pandemic

When I began this series, “Pandemic Posts from the Pause: New York City in the Age of Coronavirus” in March of 2020, I could see the first young greens of spring from my window. New Yorkers were told to stay home then and away from others. As someone who enjoys walking in the city, I knew that I would need to sacrifice many things this year. I was not going to give up walking. I quickly figured out that I could safely go to Inwood Hill Park near my house and wander the trails in the old forest. In March, I could breathe in the spring air away from others. There was little else to do during those early days of the “pause.” New Yorkers suffered greatly at the beginning. In a few months we were able to get the numbers down and to manage some semblance of human interaction, at a distance and masked.  Now, with the beginning of the holidays, the city and nation faces the existential threat of the virus’s return, the political assault on democratic norms, and the ongoing threat of the clima

A Morning Walk from Penn Station to Times Square

Penn Station to Times Square New York City entered a new phase of the reopening on Monday, but you would never know it from a morning walk in Midtown on the day after.  At 34th Street and 8th Avenue, an outsize reminder of the public health crisis from Montefiore Medical Center After running an errand near Penn Station, I decided to take a walk up to Times Square and Broadway before heading home from 59th Street and Columbus Circle.  34th Street looking east toward the Empire State Building I wasn’t altogether prepared for the sights and sounds of this time and this place. Like many other New Yorkers, I have rarely left my neighborhood for the past four months.  8th Avenue at W. 38th Street After exiting a quiet Penn Station near 8th Avenue and W. 33rd Street at what would normally be the end of rush hour, I found myself suddenly dropped into a city (mostly) bereft of crowds.  A few commuters near Port Authority and The New York Times building, 8th Avenue and W. 40th Street Yet, I had