Central Park: The Heart of New York City

by Nick David

Central Park may be one of the most beautiful urban parks in the world today; however it began not as an untouched natural wonder, but as an idea.  With its sparkling ponds, towering trees and wide open green spaces, it is tempting to think that the city of New York grew up around Central Park.  In fact, the opposite is true.

The History of Central Park
In the early 1800s, the population of New York exploded, quadrupling in size.  With people crowding into tenement housing, there were few open spaced left in the city, and the only escape from the crowd and the noise were New York’s cemeteries.

New York’s poets and thinkers began the call for a public park by the middle of the century, looking for inspiration from London’s parks and the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.  So a plan was put in place to clear existing buildings, small farms and homesteads to build the 850 acres of accessible parkland.  Today, when you visit, take a moment to appreciate that every tree, flower, path and river was designed and placed here for the enjoyment of the people.

Click for more details on Central Park

Click for more details on Central Park

 

Highlights of Central Park
There are many different ways to enjoy a day in Central Park.  Bring a blanket and a picnic lunch and spread out on the Great Lawn.  Bring a pair of binoculars and watch for warblers in The Ramble in the spring or fall.  Rent a rowboat at the Loeb Boathouse and spend a romantic hour paddling on The Lake.   Tour the park in comfort in a horse carriage or a Pedicab.  If you are visiting New York in the winter, rent skates at Wollman or Lasker Rink and spend some fresh hours enjoying the outdoors.

Visiting Central Park with the Kids
For anyone visiting New York with young children, the southeast corner of Central Park is a must. That is where you will find the small but fascinating Central Park Zoo, which is home to seals polar bears and river otters.  From there, it is a short walk to the historic Central Park Carousel, built in 19080 and moved here from Coney Island in 1951. The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre stages wonderful puppet shows several times a day, all year round.  If that isn’t enough, Central Park is home to 21 playgrounds.  The oldest and the largest is Heckscher Playground, which covers more than three acres of land with slides, climbing rocks and a water feature.

Summer Entertainment
Central Park has played host to some of New York’s biggest and best concerts, featuring artists such as Simon and Garfunkel, Barbra Streisand and Garth Brooks.  Even if there isn’t a world class concert on the schedule, there are many opportunities for music, dance or theatre in Central Park.  The New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan opera perform open-air concerts in the park every summer, as does the New York Shakespeare Festival.  The Central Park Summerstage also puts on a number of free performances all summer long, which could be dance, music or film.  Even on the quietest summer afternoon, there will be talented buskers with guitars or instruments, putting on a show for the crowds.

A Memorial to John Lennon
John Lennon lived at the Dakota Apartments, looking over Central Park on the Upper West Side.  Across the street from the Dakota lies the memorial to his life, known as Strawberry Fields.  It covers two acres of sculpted garden, with a grey marble mosaic of the word “Imagine” at its heart.  Like the rest of Central Park it is a surprising and beautiful addition to any visit to New York City.

Bryant Park in New York City

by Nick David

Bryant Park is a beautiful acreage of green lawns and tree lined foliage located amid 40th and 42nd Streets and from 5th and 6th Avenue in midtown Manhattan. It is located directly behind the New York Public Library. This is one of the more popular spots in the city for millions of locals and tourists from all around the world that visit on a daily basis.

 

Bryant Park in New York City

 

More than 900 people visit the park per acre daily. It offers several amenities for the entire family and was even awarded the title of “Best Bathroom in America” in 2002. The park is operated and managed by a private funding corporation; Bryant Park Corporation otherwise known as BPC. It was cofounded by Andrea Heiskell and Dan Biederman in 1980 and is the largest private management companies to fund a private park in the United States.

 

The main attraction is the lawn. It is a big expansion of grass and is the largest south of Central Park in Manhattan. Office workers are served lunch as well as a seating room offered for pedestrians to rest. Visitors are attracted to the many events that are held such as the Summer Film Festival, Fashion Shows, Ice Skating Rink and other major events.

 

History of the Park
It was back in 1686 when New York Colonial Governor Thomas Dongan designated the area where the park sits today as public space. Troops from the Battle of Long Island crossed the land in the 1700’s and in the beginning of the 1820’s the park was chosen as Potter’s Field. This was designated as a graveyard or cemetery for the poor. The bodies were then removed in 1840 and moved to Wards Island. Reservoir Square was the first site opened in 1847.

 

It wasn’t until 1884 when Reservoir Square was renamed after William Cullen Bryant. William Cullen Bryant was a well-respected and well known New York Evening Post editor and poet. Kiosks, facilities and terraces were added to the park in 1899.

 

Things to do
A day in the park will never get boring as there are plenty of interesting things for the whole family to enjoy while visiting. Reading Room, Le Carrousel, Ping Pong, Citi Pond, Holiday Shops, Southwest Porch, The Grounds, Petanque, Chess and Backgammon, Bryant Park Games, Bryant Park Grill and Café, Yoga Classes, Language Classes, Birds in Bryant Park, Shopping and a full events calendar are all offered on a regular basis to take part in.

 

Visiting the Park
Bryant Park is open daily with hours varying. Management reserves the right to change hours due to weather and other unsafe conditions. For hours please visit the official website or contact the park. To reach Bryant Park by subway take the B, D, F or M train to the park or take the 7 over to 5th Avenue. Click here to read more on Bryant Park.

 

Rules and regulations are enforced to keep the park as clean as possible with clean smoke free air and free of litter. All visitors must obey by the regulations before entering the park.

 

Battery Park In New York City

by Nick David

Battery Park in New York CityBattery Park is one of southern Manhattan’s waterfront attractions that is located from New York Harbor to State Street. It is a 90 acre public park that is open space for downtown Manhattan. This is one of the oldest and the first waterfront parks in New York City dating way back to the 1690’s. More than 3 million visitors come to Battery Park each year to witness the beautiful landscape, scenic waterfront views, historical monuments, playgrounds and open air performances all year round.

 

The park is within walking distance to many local attractions and business such as Staten Island Ferry, South Street Seaport and the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.

 

History of Battery Park

Battery gained its name from the artilleries that were built after the American Revolution. In 1623 Dutch settlers landed in the area where they used battery of canons to defend the city. Castle Clinton was built with eagerness from the War of 1812 and the need to defend the new city. This was also known as the Castle Garden in which became the world’s first immigrant center in the 1850’s. It welcomed more than 8 million immigrants to the United States before Ellis Island replaced the center. Since history was made this has become an important monument of the park.

 

The Castle became the New York Aquarium later on with the park suffering from many decades of neglect. In 1941 the Castle Clinton was close to being demolished, but conservationists were successful in declaring it a national monument in 1946 saving it from deconstruction.

 

Attractions

There are many attractions that date back to historic days and current times. The American Merchant Mariner’s Memorial, Coast Guard Memorial, Korean War Veteran Memorial are monuments where visitors remember those who served our country and lost their lives. There is also the Sphere. This is a very popular 25 foot landmark that draws millions of visitors each year. It is located in between the World Trade towers. This special monument dates back to the 9/11 attacks that still stands tall with its eternal flame serving in honor to those who lost their lives in the attack.

 

There are acres of beautiful gardens. Dutch designer Piet Oudolf designed this 10,000 square foot Gardens of Remembrance in dedication to those who lost their lives on 9/11. It was designed with more than 100 horticultural perennials and plants inspired by the parks location overlooking more than 11,000 acres of the Harbor.

 

The Bosque Garden opened in June of 2005 and is filled with more than 25,000 perennials covering more than 50,000 square feet of greenery. This was Oudolf’s way of complimenting the graceful mix of woodland and rugged prairie.

 

Battery Labyrinth is the parks walking path that is located at the northwest corner of the park. This was designed to celebrate and mark the one year anniversary of 9/11. It was designed with granite blocks forming or creating seven different rings surrounded with greenery.

 

Visiting Battery Park

Battery Park can be accessed from Battery Place and State Street. With so many visitors daily there are strict regulations for pets. There are many food kiosks and merchants market to visit while enjoying the day at the historic park. Click here to read more on Battery Park.