By Kelly Rush, Downtown Alliance
Among the cracks in the pavement, beyond terraced rows of glass and rebar, sunshine, speckled more from the patterns of buildings than from trees, finds its way to open spaces. A dirt path meanders through a miniature forest in one such space that is surrounded on all sides by steel; in another a black metal staircase that rises to nowhere overlooks a promenade on the Hudson River.
Such little pockets of vista and bench where tired New Yorkers can sit and enjoy a view or a latte abound in Lower Manhattan. These are spots in which the passerby was meant to linger, not just a doorway or a stoop. The naturalist John Muir said, “Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray, where nature heals and gives strength to body and soul alike.” Our forest or marsh or pond may be the size of a condo and hold as much water as a bathtub and sprout just a handful of reeds, but they exist, and in greater numbers here than many might imagine.
From river to river, from Rockefeller Park to the Battery, I have compiled a list of the outdoor spaces in Lower Manhattan where one can spend a day or a minute without a doorman requesting that you take your hot dog and stop blocking the back door no one comes out of anyway.
The park features almost two dozen memorials, including the Korean War, Coast Guard and Salvation Army memorials, in addition to rows of manicured walking paths, benches everywhere you look, ferries to the Statue of Liberty, and grassy patches meant for napping.
Peter Minuit Plaza: South Ferry Terminal (Free WiFi)
This public space, designed by Gail Wittwer-Laird, is a unique combination of transportation hub (travelers can get on the Staten Island Ferry, subway and buses) eatery, gardens and walking paths. Stop by the Downtown Alliance’s information kiosk and grab a map or, if you know the area as well as our guides, choose your own path.
Bowling Green Park: Broadway and Beaver Street (Free WiFi)
Situated just south of the Wall Street Bull, Bowling Green Park is a resting stop in the middle of two highly-trafficked roads. The space features circular gardens, a fountain and benches surrounding the park.
To read the full guide at the Downtown Alliance’s website visit by clicking here.
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