Stuy Town is suburbia in the middle of New York City.
New York City blurs the line between residential neighborhoods and business areas. It seems as if every possible nook and cranny is used as an apartment regardless of the location, so inhabitants and businesses have to co-exist with very little breathing room. Still, there is one particular area that offers a suburban oasis in the midst of all the brownstones and luxury high-rises: Stuyvesant Town.
Officially named “Stuyvesant Town – Peter Cooper Village,” but commonly referred to as “Stuy Town,” this section of the city is bordered by the East River, Gramercy Park, Alphabet City, and Kips Bay. Originally, this was the most popular private community of the post-World War II era, and, unlike most parts of NYC, the neighborhood houses people who have lived there for decades. Nowadays, Stuy Town is home to over 25,000 people with a diverse demographic that includes college students, senior citizens, and families with children.
Along the outskirts, its entrances are rather inconspicuous, but once you venture down one of the many side streets leading into the village, it’s hard to believe what a stark contrast there is between Stuy Town and its surroundings. The main outdoor space, called “The Oval,” includes a large fountain, a beautiful park, basketball courts, a café, a daycare center, and endless rows of benches where people can relax. On any given day, weather permitting, you’ll find children playing in the outdoor water park, families having picnics on the lawn, and dogs enjoying their afternoon walks.
When one of my friends moved to Stuy Town and I went to visit for the first time, I was surprised at how peaceful and quiet it was. In fact, I felt like I had left New York altogether. They also have an ecosystem specifically designed around the seasons. One of my favorite parts of this summer, for example, was grabbing some late-night Red Mango, walking by the fountain, taking in the scent of the gardenia trees, and watching fireflies dance around. (Who knew there were fireflies in New York City?)
Even if you don’t live in Stuy Town, it’s a great place to visit on the weekends if you need a momentary pause from the typical city rush. On Sundays, there’s a Greenmarket with fresh produce, flowers, and other locally-made treats, and with a beautiful, secluded park in the center of it all, you have all the makings for a tranquil, suburban-style break.
For more info on Stuyvesant Town, visit the website.
Stuy Town photo by David Shankbone. The Oval photo by Gesalbte. Stuy Town’s central green photo by Momos.