Long-time New York City landmark Bryant Park has seen centuries of growth and change since its original designation when it was still verdant wilderness by the Governor of Colonial New York as a “dedicated public space”; George Washington’s troops actually crossed the property in retreat from the Battle of Long Island in 1776. The continual repurposing of the almost ten acre property has seen it a poor man’s graveyard and a public park; during the Civil War the land was used to conduct military drills; later, it was the site of the celebrated “Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations” that kicked off one of the first major tourist booms in New York City, drawing over a million visitors. After the construction of the Sixth Avenue Elevated Railway in 1878, the park fell into a state of neglect and considerable disrepair and was “deemed” disreputable; years later in the 1930s, it was once again, redesigned.
That wouldn’t be the last time! Fast forward: Modern-day favorite Bryant Park is built entirely over an underground structure housing the New York Public Library’s archives and thrives as a privately managed public oasis; cited as a model for the success of private-public partnerships, it is the most densely occupied urban park in the world! A fine respite from the aggressive climate of the “concrete jungle“ year-round, this beautiful park is the go-to spot during the holiday season, when it’s transformed into a winter wonderland filled with whirling ice skaters, twinkling Christmas lights and busy shoppers buzzing the scores of food and goodie carts, eclectic little gift kiosks and arts and crafts vendors scattered throughout. The advent of warmer weather brings the bloom of thousands of fragrant daffodils and narcissus, deep purple hyacinth and Easter-egg colored tulips; spring concerts fill the air above the grounds and gardens and HBO/Bryant Park Summer Film Festival brings Monday night movies beneath the stars! Year-round, visitors enjoy the reading room, free wi-fi, abundant, clean seating, (tiny tables with umbrellas and plenty of well-manicured green grass!) world-class rest facilities, lawn and tabletop games, (ping pong in the park, anyone?) a putting green, an old-fashioned carousel, a variety of dining choices and quirky little “shopportunities”! Bryant Park is the perfect pace to kick off your shoes and the cares of the day- right in the heart of the city!