One of the many reasons I love New York is because the opportunity to discover hidden gems in the city never ends. No matter how long I live here, I will continue to experience new things and places off the grid. Here’s an example. Last week when I walked on a block that I’ve never walked on before, I stumbled upon the bucolic and beautiful Greenacre Park. Oddly enough, I’d wandered around this area of Midtown East before because I used to work less than 10 minutes from here. Sure, I’d heard about Greenacre Park, but I never made a dedicated trip to see it. Not realizing that it was located on 51st Street between Second and Third Avenues (the exact block where I was), I was surprised when I spotted it. Of course, I had to go inside.
When I entered, I found a few people relaxing, so the park was quiet except for the sound of the waterfall, and what a wonderful sound that was. I walked around the perfectly landscaped pocket park and admired every square inch. The greatest part of my visit was feeling removed from New York if only for a short time. Thanks to the crashing waterfall, I heard no sounds of the city, and I felt a sense of calm and respite from frantic Midtown, just steps away.
Modeled after nearby Paley Park, Greenacre Park opened in 1971 as a vest pocket park. The outdoor space is a mere 60 feet by 120 feet, and of course that rippling 25-foot waterfall is the focal point. Besides the water, what I love most about this park is the carefully designed outdoor spaces on different levels. These feel like a collection of adjoining rooms, each very separate from the next. Moveable seating and lush plantings complete each space.
For a nosh, Carol’s Cafe serves sandwiches, coffee, and ice cream, as well as breakfast. There are also plenty of cafés and takeaway restaurants in the neighborhood, great for grabbing a bite and eating lunch in the park.
The next time you find yourself in Midtown East and need a breather from avenue noise and traffic, wander into Greenacre Park. Read a book, do some work, meet a friend, stop and listen, daydream. Quiet places like Greenacre Park are part of New York City life too, and we should treasure each and every one.
Greenacre Park is in the midst of a “Fight for Light” campaign. Midtown East is up for rezoning, and if approved, development would increase in this area of Manhattan. That means more construction and taller buildings, hence less light. In an area of town with fewer public parks than other neighborhoods, Greenacre Park provides sunlight and fresh air, and improves the quality of life and health and wellness for local residents. For more about this campaign and Greenacre Park, please visit greenacrepark.org.
217 E 51st St, New York, NY