The New York Palace Park Series: Bryant Park

Bryant Park serves as Manhattan’s makeshift town square: a vibrant gathering place in the heart of America’s most energetic urban area. Manhattanites and visitors alike use the park as a place to meet, relax, dine and shop year-round, as the adaptable space transforms from a relaxing lawn to a bustling ice rink on a seasonal basis. Just a few blocks south of The New York Palace, the park sits in the shadow of the city’s stunning skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building, Bank of America Tower and the Chrysler Building. And the best part about Bryant Park is that it offers something different depending on when you visit.

Summer

The official opening of Bryant Park’s lawn is hailed as an unofficial holiday by those who work and live near the park (it usually opens in mid-March). The lawn marks the return of sunny skies and warm weather to the city and provides a lush place to lounge amid the concrete jungle of Manhattan.

  • Yoga – Stop by the park on Tuesday mornings or Thursday evenings to participate in a free yoga session, led by an expert from lululemon athletica.
  • Ping Pong – Give one of the park’s two ping pong tables a spin at 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue. Paddles and balls are provided free of charge, but you should sign up in advance to play.
  • Summer Film Festival – Settle in on the lawn every Monday evening with a blanket and good company for a movie projected on the big screen. The 2012 lineup includes classics like On The Waterfront, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Wizard of Oz.
  • Live Music – As part of the Bryant Park After Work series, a live performer graces the park each Wednesday evening from 6pm-7pm. Grab a light bite at the ‘wichcraft kiosk or a cold drink at the Bryant Park Café and enjoy the music.

Winter

When the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, Bryant Park converts into a dazzling beacon of light and activity that draws visitors from around the city. Great shopping, dining, and ice skating is available at the park at morning, noon and night, making the nine-acre plot one of New York’s signature winter attractions.

  • Citi Pond – This 170’-x-100’ ice skating rink features free skating and rental skates, in addition to special events and activities. The giant rink sits in the center of the park and features Celsius restaurant, a two-story structure offering stellar views of the city, holiday tree and ice rink.
  • The Holiday Shops – With more than 120 artisans, specialty boutiques and food & drink kiosks, this thriving open-air market is a great place to spend an afternoon picking up holiday gifts, grab a delicious lunch or a piping hot beverage.
  • Holiday Tree – It may not have the same illustrious history as its neighbor at Rockefeller Center, but the Bryant Park holiday tree shines bright at the corner of 41st Street and Sixth Avenue, illuminating the west side of the park from as far away as Times Square.

Facts, Figures & Info

Bryant Park was initially opened in 1847 as Reservoir Square, and subsequently hosted the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations and served as a military drill field during the Civil War. The park went through several rough stretches during its history, falling into disrepair early in the 20th century and again in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation stepped in to improve conditions, redesigning and restoring the park to its former glory.

  • 9.6 acres
  • Longest expanse of grass in Manhattan south of Central Park (seasonal)
  • 800 visitors per acre
  • Most densely occupied urban park in the world
  • First NYC park to offer free Wi-Fi access
  • Appeared in Ghostbusters, Law & Order, and Sex and the City

 


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