Tag Archives: parks

Governors Island

Governors Island is open only during the summer on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays. Free ferries run approximately every half hour from The Battery in Manhattan and every ten minutes from Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn. Visit The Trust for Governor’s Island for the 2015 schedule.

The island has two forts – Fort Jay and Castle Williams – that date back to 1806. (Castle Williams, which had been closed for renovations, has been reopened.) Other structures were added by the U.S. Army over the years; the island ended its military career as First Army HQ in 1966, when Governors Island was turned over to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard moved out in 1996; in 2001 the forts (and the land between them) were designated a National Monument. The federal government sold the island to the City and State of New York in 2003; “Open Access Weekends” began in 2005. Currently, Governors Island Alliance, the Trust for Governors Island, and the National Park Service are expanding the island’s park facilities and programs.

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High Line Park

New York “Parkitecture”: An abandoned elevated freight rail line on the Lower West Side has a new life as a one-of-a-kind elevated green space. The park winds from 34th Street near 12th Avenue to Gansevoort Street and Washington Street. (The northernmost extension opened in 2014.) You can enter at either end or at several stairways in between. Visit http://www.thehighline.org/ for more information.

Besides being an enjoyable destination unto itself, High Line is an excellent vantage point for spotting architectural landmarks of Chelsea, West Chelsea and Gansevoort Historic Districts.

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Battery Park City

Battery Park City was built on landfill – the ground removed for the original World Trade Center excavations.

The architecture, naturally, is all new – post-1980. But the interesting part of Battery Park City is how its apartment and commercial buildings have been combined with green space: there really is a park in the middle of Battery Park City.

The Esplanade is the park’s backbone, running from Battery Place up to Chambers Street along the Hudson River. It is a link in the growing “Greenway” bike/pedestrian path along most of New York’s waterfront.

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Central Park – Bethesda Terrace and Fountain

Bethesda Terrace and Fountain are lavishly detailed works of art, from the herringbone brickwork pavement to the English Minton encaustic ceiling tiles in the arcade under the terrace, to the sculpted fountain inspired by the Biblical account of the miraculous pool of Bethesda.

This is a perfect place to start your Central Park photo collection – The Lake to the north, Conservatory Water to the northeast, and The Mall to the south are all highly photogenic.

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Central Park Grand Tour

Central Park is a magnificent piece of architecture – parkitecture, if you will – for make no mistake, the 843-acre landmark is man-made, constructed in 1858-1873. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the same team that later designed Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. You could easily take a week or two to explore all of Central Park’s nooks and crannies – there are close to 200 named attractions within the park.

While it may seem strange that a park should be engineered, there is method to the madness. For example, entrance paths were laid out with sharp turns so that a screen of trees was quickly placed between the visitor and the city. Cross-park traverses at 66th, 79th, 85th and 97th Streets were sunk below grade level to make them disappear into the landscape.

This “Grand Tour” of 100+ slides covers the high points – but we’ll need several installments to really show the entire park. You may be interested in the companion gallery, focusing on Bethesda Fountain.

You may also be interested in learning more about Central Park from Central Park Conservancy, the private non-profit group that maintains the park in cooperation with New York City. Visit their site at www.centralparknyc.org.


Getting There: Central Park is surrounded by 15 subway stations: N, R, and Q at Fifth Avenue/59th Street; A, B, C, D, and 1 at Columbus Circle; B and C along Central Park West at 72nd, 81st, 96th, 103rd and 110th Streets; 2 and 3 at Lenox Avenue/ 110th Street; 4, 5, and 6 along Lexington Avenue at 59th, 68th, 77th, 86th, 96th, 103rd and 110th Streets (walk 3 blocks west). Paths are NOT well marked. If you want to explore, you really need a detailed map! Make The Dairy/Visitor Center your first stop. It’s just south of the 65th Street Transverse, about midway through the park.

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Septuagesimo Uno

It may not qualify as New York City’s smallest park, but I’ll bet it’s the only park with a Latin name (which means 71).

Septuagesimo Uno is among the “vest pocket parks” created during the Mayor John V. “Fun City” Lindsay administration. (The mayor is, unfortunately, better known for poor handling of a snowstorm cleanup.) A sign on the park’s front (and only) gate tells all.

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Riverside Park

Riverside Park is another creation of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux – the powerhouse team who also designed Central Park and Prospect Park.

Riverside Park extends from 72nd Street to 158th Street along the Hudson River. It was built in 1875-1910; Robert Moses expanded and enhanced the park during the 1930s – adding the Henry Hudson parkway and covering up the former New York Central tracks, which had cut off access to much of the park. In the 1990s, Riverside Park South was created over the former Penn Central rail yards, in a Donald Trump-led development. (This photo gallery covers Riverside park’s main section, 72nd-125th Street.)

More information is available at the Parks Department and Riverside Park Fund sites: www.nycgovparks.org and www.riversideparkfund.org/.

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Union Square

Union Square is ever-changing, though many surrounding buildings have stayed the same.

At one time known for political rallies and the annual May Day rally, the park was overrun by druggies in the ’70s. Union Square has since been cleaned up – figuratively and literally – with new fences, new landscaping and new pavement from East 14th Street to East 17th Street. The peddlers are still out in force, though their products are now veggies, art and souvenirs instead of drugs.

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