Friday, June 23, 2006


Tucked behind the New York Public Library, a mere biscuits toss from 5th Avenue and the sensory hell of Times Square, is an oasis (by NY standards) of relative calm.
I first discovered Bryant Park a couple of years ago, when the JVC Jazz Festival held three days of free events there, and it has since become one of my favourite NY haunts. Despite the office blocks rising above the trees on all sides, with its tree-lined pathway circumference and grassed centre, this small haven nevertheless feels totally cut off from the surrounding madness, and you can almost hear yourself think.

Quite apart from all that, the layout and use of this park for public events is truly inspired, which is why, when talks were underway at the SBC in London 18 months ago, regarding the re-design of Jubilee Gardens, I suggested that they might consider using Bryant Park as a model.

So today, because there are no longer enough hours in the night in which to see bands, I went along to Bryant Park's latest offering - a free performance by Mary J. Blige at, errrrr, 7am. This was one of a series of free concerts at 7am every Friday, which in forthcoming weeks will also feature Lionel Ritchie and the Beach Boys. The performances go out live on 'Good Morning America' on ABC, who presumably pay for them, and the time of day guarantees crowd-number control and also ensures that the noise doesn't disturb nearby offices. A genius programming idea.

In addition to these performances, there are free movies at dusk every Monday evening shown on a huge screen, a reading area with books and literature events, a gorgeous carousel, a chess/games area, free WiFi, coffee booths, and 2,000 chairs and tables you're allowed to move around the park. And of course, in Winter, one of the largest ice rinks in the City.

In short, it's one of those very rare urban spaces, where both architects and programmers have got it exactly right. If you're ever in the neighbourhood, go check it out...


Blogger codenameLizzy said...

Did you :
a) stay up all night
b) get up early
Need to know urgent like.

6:01 PM, June 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You went!! I had only got home at about 4.30.... and not fit to stay up for a morning gig.
I'm very impressed.
"Gland-U-lar(k) singing at dawn"

11:38 PM, June 24, 2006  

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