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New York City Parks

Updated on July 6, 2012
The Angel of the Waters Fountain, Central Park New York City
The Angel of the Waters Fountain, Central Park New York City

While Manhattan is famous for its distinguished landmarks, Broadway Theaters, Fifth Avenue shopping and great dining, it is also home to more than forty enchanting parks.  From massive parks like Central Park to reclusive parks like Gramercy to charming parks like Bryan Park – Manhattan is sprinkled with thoroughly designed green spots.

Central Park, New York City
Central Park, New York City
Central Park South, New York City
Central Park South, New York City
The Gapstow Bridge in Central Park
The Gapstow Bridge in Central Park
Bow Bridge in Central Park
Bow Bridge in Central Park

The most famous park of New York is undoubtedly Central Park. Built in 1850s-1870s and officially completed in 1873, Central Park now is 843 acres of trees, lakes, ponds, hills and rocks. More urbanized on the south part with great recreational attractions such as Wollman Ice-Skating Rink, Central Park Zoo and Conservatory Garden, Central Park is an oasis of wild nature and tranquility on the north. There are plenty places here where you can escape from noisiness and busyness of the city and relax in an isolation. Central Park South, the street that is boarded Central Park on the south, is packed with beautiful residential building, hotels and restaurants. Horse-carriages along the street offer you a romantic ride in the park; beautiful hotels offer great accommodations and astonishing views of Central Park.

Designed by American landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted and English architect Calvert Vaux, Central Park has 36 bridges, ranging from rugged spans of Manhattan granite, to lacy neo-gothic cast iron, no two alike. The biggest innovation of the Central Park landscape design was separate roads for pedestrians, horseback riders and recreational vehicles. The crosstown traffic is entirely concealed in hollow roadways, so as not to disturb the impression of a rural scene. And indeed, with many small creeks and waterfalls, more than one hundred species of birds, small animals, jungles of trees, plants and flowers - in many places in Central Park you cannot even imagine that less than in a mile distance from here there is a boiling life of a huge city. However, Central Park is also popular venue for cultural activities – the Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn in a regular place for summer performances of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera, rock and pop musicians. Delacorte Theater in Central Park presents annual Shakespeare in the Park festival. Art installations, dancing classes, street performers and artists – the beauty and scenery of Central Park attracts all kind of arts, even movies. And its appearance in many movies and TV shows has made it famous not only in the USA but world-wide.

Gramercy Park, New York City
Gramercy Park, New York City

Even though Central Park is the most popular and massive parks in Manhattan, there are other parks worth to mention. The most unique of them is Gramercy Park, one of only two private parks in New York City. The park is located between East 20th and 21st Streets at the foot of Lexington Avenue and only people who reside around the park are allowed there. Only residents of buildings surrounding the park have a key, the public is otherwise only allowed in the park one day a year. However, if you are staying in Gramercy Park Hotel, you are in luck – the concierge will provide you with a key, so during your staying in the hotel you can enjoy this private park as a real resident of this historic neighborhood. And the Gramercy neighborhood has a lot to offer. Besides Gramercy Park Hotel, one of the greatest landmarks of New York and fun place to hang out, the area full of historical brownstones and carriage houses, restaurants and bars. Irving Place, New York restaurant Mecca, and famous Union Square are just a minute walk away.

Bryant Park, New York City
Bryant Park, New York City

Bryant Park, nestled in a heart of Midtown on a backyard of New York Public Library in its canyon of skyscrapers, is a refuge of peace and calm. Gravel paths, green chairs, flower beds, London plane trees, a huge lawn – Bryant Park is New Yorker’s favorite place to relax during the day, have lunch, read a newspaper, play chess and enjoy the view of the city around. At lunch time in warm weather month, the park usually hosts over 5,000 business people. Bryant Park’s lawn is a regular location for concerts, fashion shows and during the winter is home to a free ice-skating rink. Bryant Park Grill and Café, behind the New York Public Library is a great place to enjoy the views of the park with a couple of drinks and appetizers.

The ice-skating rink in Bryant Park, New York City
The ice-skating rink in Bryant Park, New York City
Battery Park, New York
Battery Park, New York
Battery Park, New York City
Battery Park, New York City

On the southern tip of Manhattan, facing New York Harbor there is another notable park – Battery Park. Battery Park is a 10 hectare of trees, plants, flower gardens, promenades and dining spots. Named after the artillery battery that was stationed there at various times by the Dutch and British in order to protect the harbor, Battery Park is famous by its beautiful waterfront and breathtaking views of the harbor and Statue of Liberty. Castle Garden, nestled inside Battery Park, is the world’s first immigrant depot. Decades before of Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty, thousands boats with newcomers arrived at Battery Park from around the world.  And Battery Park manifests its more than 200 year history with many monuments honoring soldiers, immigrants, explorers and inventors.


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    • austinscottbrooks profile image


      7 years ago from New York, NY

      While reading this, I was reminded of a song that came out a few years back by Cher and Gregg Allman's son, "Deadsy". (The song was appropriately called "The key to Gramery Park). It made me chuckle.

      Thanks for presenting such a great rundown of NYC's parks. They all seem to have their own unique personalities. I'm particularly excited about visiting Bryant Park for the start of the Winter Film Festival this weekend. Have you heard anything about it?

    • hinckles koma profile image

      hinckles koma 

      9 years ago from nyc

      love nyc, love your hub.

    • Wanderlust profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from New York City

      Well ethel, I have to agree with E.A. Wright, these parks are still needed! I personally would never live in New York if there is no Central Park here!

    • E. A. Wright profile image

      E. A. Wright 

      9 years ago from New York City

      "Once needed?" Those parks are still needed!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Beautiful parks which I guess were once much needed.


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