Socrates Sculpture Park | A Unique Open-Air Gallery

by Denise Marie

Unlike the MET, you are encouraged to touch the art at the Socrates Sculpture Park. Located in Long Island City, this outdoor sculpture gallery features an expanse of green space scattered with large-scale art installations.

The Socrates Sculpture Park was an abandoned landfill until the late eighties when it was transformed by a group of community members and artists into the unique open-air gallery it is today. The park also offers many free public programs including outdoor movie nights and art classes.

With its spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline across the East River, the Socrates Sculpture Park is also a great place to simply walk your dog or stroll with your family along the waterfront.

Art at the Socrates Sculpture Park

The installations at the Socrates Sculpture Park change frequently so no two visits are alike. Typically the park features a collection of contemporary large-scale art and multi-media exhibits. These one-of-a-kind pieces are often interactive, offering visitors a different way to experience art and creating a more accessible environment than at a traditional art gallery.

The Socrates Sculpture Park features an outdoor studio and resident artists who receive grants to develop and display their work onsite, allowing visitors to see sculptures in different phases of development.

Click to book your New York CityPass

Special Events and Activities

The Socrates Sculpture Park is known not only for its eclectic collection of artwork but also for the broad range of free events and activities available throughout the summer season.

The park’s popular outdoor cinema series showcases international films throughout the summer. Moviegoers can spread out a blanket on the grass as the sun sets and enjoy a movie from a different country each week.

Socrates Sculpture Park also presents a schedule of free concerts, plays and performances such as Shakespeare in the Park. There are also art workshops for both kids and adults offered free of charge as well as fun activities such as free kayaking excursions and the free “Kite Flight” where kids learn to build their own kite from recycled materials, and then fly it in the park.

Free Fitness Programs

Yoga and Tai Chi lovers will appreciate the free classes offered at the Socrates Sculpture Park, especially as the classes are held by the park’s picturesque waterfront. The beautiful views of Roosevelt Island and Manhattan’s Upper East Side provide a peaceful, Zen-like setting for relaxation and meditation.

In addition to free yoga and Tai Chi classes, you can also take part in free Pilates classes and Capoeira classes, the Afro-Brazilian martial art which integrates self-defense and dance movements. The fitness classes at Socrates Sculpture Park are suitable for all levels of experience.

Markets in the Park

Each summer Socrates Sculpture Park is home to a Greenmarket Farmers Market where local farmers gather to sell their farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. The park also features a Makers Market where artisans offer handmade items including jewelry, furniture and ceramics.

Visiting the Socrates Sculpture Park in New York

The Socrates Sculpture Park is located in Long Island City, Queens, New York at the intersection of Broadway and Vernon Boulevard across from the Noguchi Museum.

The park is open year round and admission is free. For hours of operation or more information on the programs, classes and current exhibition schedule call 718-956-1819 or visit Socrates Sculpture Park official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with official website.

Washington Square Park | A Vibrant Meeting Place

by Denise Marie

Washington Square Park, at the foot of New York’s Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Greenwich Village, is an almost 10-acre park that serves as campus green for nearby New York University, a place for residents to relax and walk their dogs, and a public art and theater center. One of the more popular of New York City’s 1700 parks, it is named for the United States’ first president, George Washington. The park is a vibrant meeting place and offers visitors a little bit of everything – from hiking trails to chess tables.


Washington Square Park has a varied history. Before it became a public park in 1823, the area was a marshland, part of a Native American village, the site of 18th century public executions, a military parade ground, and a “Potter’s Field” burial ground, where tens of thousands of indigent 18th century yellow fever victims lie.

In the mid-19th century, as living conditions grew more crowded in lower Manhattan, many of the city’s wealthier residents built large Greek revival mansions on the north side of the park. Many of these elegant residences still stand today.

Washington Square Park has been featured in several books and films, including Henry James’ novel, “Washington Square” (set in one of the Greek revival mansions mentioned above) and the film, “Searching for Bobby Fischer,” where the protagonist plays chess right in the park.

Click to book your New York CityPass

Art in Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park features a number of statues and public monuments. Chief among them is Washington Arch, erected in 1889 to commemorate the centennial of President George Washington’s (New York City) inaugural. The original Washington Arch was a temporary, wood and plaster affair. It was replaced in 1892 with the current 77-foot high, marble arch, designed by Stanford White.

The park also sports two statutes of George Washington, one by Alexander Calder (the father of the famous early 20th century artist) and one by Hermon MacNeil, as well a statute of Italian freedom fighter, Giuseppe Garibaldi. The large stone fountain in the center of the park was moved from Fifth Avenue and E 59th St. in the mid-1870’s.


The park hosts a full schedule of concerts, theater presentations, and festivals throughout the year. In addition, Washington Square Park is popular with street musicians, mimes, and artists. Aspiring poets can frequently be found sharing their latest works with park visitors and adjacent New York University holds its commencement ceremonies in the park, weather permitting. Click for a list of upcoming events at Washington Square Park.

The Future of Washington Square Park

In 2005, developers proposed to redesign Washington Square Park. Among the prospective “improvements” were a fence around the perimeter of the park, the relocation of the central fountain and the Garibaldi Statue, and raising the park to be even with the street level. Needless to say, these proposals have been controversial and have met with opposition from NYU students and area residents. One of the chief concerns is that the construction will disturb the “hallowed ground” of the former cemetery. Time will tell whether these developers will be successful, but New Yorkers have a long history of fighting for their favorite spaces.

Visiting Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is easily accessible from all over Manhattan via the buses and subway line that run down Fifth Avenue. It is also a short walk from Greenwich Village, NYU, and Manhattan’s financial district.

The park is a popular meeting place for residents, NYU students, and tourists alike. There’s a kind of European town square feel to the park. Activities offered there include the permanent chess tables, extensive hiking and bike trails, a long leash-free dog run, bocce courts, lots of benches, and a children’s playground. The park is open from sunrise until 1am daily.

Location: at the foot of New York’s Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Greenwich Village, New York City
Phone: 212-677-6783

Click here to visit Washington Square Park official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with official website.

Governors Island | In the Heart of NY Harbor | NYC’s Backyard

by Denise Marie

Located in the heart of New York Harbor, this massive public park covers 172 acres and can be reached by a quick ferry ride from Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn. Governors Island is open to visitors from May 1st to October 31st and offers a picturesque, pedestrian-only environment with many events and activities including concerts, bike rentals and ample space for picnics and relaxing. It is a great destination in the summertime for those wanting to escape the heat of the city.

An Island for His Majesty’s Governors

When the English captured New Amsterdam and renamed it New York in 1664, they took control of this island. It was then known as Nutten Island because the Native Americans of the region referred to it as as Pagganck, which means “Nut Island,” due to the many chestnut and hickory trees on the land. The island went back and forth between the Dutch and the English for about a decade until Britain finally gained exclusive control for the “benefit and accommodation of His Majesty’s Governors.” It was officially named Governors Island in 1784.

A Military History

Governors Island served as a military base by both the British and American forces for more than two centuries. After the revolution, New York State took control of the island and it was unused for many years until the War of 1812, when troops were stationed there to provide coastal defense. The island continued to be used for military purposes during the American Civil War and throughout the two World Wars. It became a major Coast Guard installation after the U.S. Military forces were consolidated in 1966, with a residential community of about 3,500 people.

Click to book your New York CityPass

A National Monument

Many historic events have taken place on Governors Island including the relighting of the renovated Statue of Liberty by President Reagan in 1986. The island has also hosted many key events including Reagan’s U.S.-U.S.S.R. summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988. Today 22 acres of the island have been declared the Governors Island National Monument, the centerpiece being two 1812-era fortresses.

A Public Space

New York City took over ownership of Governors Island from New York State in 2010. Mayor Bloomberg has transformed a large portion of the island into a public park. A popular place for picnicking and bike-riding, the island offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, Jersey City and downtown Manhattan. There are many outdoor and indoor spaces on the island available for public programs and events, and in the summer months the island hosts a busy schedule of concerts, festivals and activities.

Visiting Governors Island

Governors Island is located approximately half-mile south of Manhattan. It can be reached by a quick, free ferry ride from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street (next the Staten Island Ferry) in lower Manhattan or from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Location: In the heart of New York Harbor, New York City, NY

Click to visit Governors Island official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with official website.