/ The New York City Traveler
New York — By Steve Mirsky on April 16, 2010 at 11:03 pm
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Lower Manhattan Pocket Parks

A lot of times, pocket parks are overlooked in the mad rush to grander sylvan refuges like Central Park, Prospect Park, Wave Hill etc.. But ignoring the following smaller pockets of respite stuffed into New York’s urban fabric is your loss!  You’ll definitely miss out on some intriguing capsules of city heritage and portals from which to view everyday New Yorkers at ease before rushing off someplace else.

Coenties Slip Park

Coenties Slip Sculpture

Storied Coenties Slip Park, is referenced in the first page of Melville’s Moby Dick: “Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you see?” and named after original Dutch landowner Conraet Ten Eyck and his wife Antje (Co+Antje)”. Coenties Alley was once an inlet of the East River where sailing ships docked. Eventually backfilled in 1835, this narrow strip, now solid ground, is filled with benches, plantings, and “Coenties Ship”, a 21-foot-tall sculpture fabricated from stainless steel and glass. During Coenties Slip Parks construction in 2004, hollow logs were discovered several feet under ground dating back to 1808 used as pipes in the Manhattan Water Company’s main system.

Manahattan Park

Between South and Water Streets, formerly an underused two-way street, this area is now a one-way alongside narrow tree-lined Manahatta Park. Seating along the central promenade takes the form of structural glass cubes that illuminate capped with polished granite slabs. The parks centerpiece, an outdoor fountain commemorating bank employees killed on 9/11, is anchored by a nine-foot pale green glass bowl.  Establishing a maritime theme tying the East River to Wall St., it also sets a tone of mourning. The fountains base, formed by continuous radial rings beginning from its apex to a raised glass veneer planter, gives it a teardrop shape. All this glass combined with cascading water captures sun or moon light often refracting it as a dazzling gem.

Charging Bull Right Above Bowling Green

Bowling Green

Having the distinction of being the oldest park in New York City, Bowling Green, just north of the Battery, is a wedge-shaped plaza formed by the splitting of Broadway into two forks. The eastern prong becomes Whitehall Street and the western side is State Street after Broadway terminates.  The Dutch and later the English bowled on grass in this spot and it is commonly accepted that Dutch colonial administrator Peter Minuit traded glass beads here with the natives in exchange for Manhattan. The surrounding streets have been paved with cobblestones since 1744 and park’s walkways were cobbled some time later to match.  If entering from the north on Broadway, you’ll immediately see a gigantic three-and-a-half-ton bronze bull sculpture.  Entitled Charging Bull, it was placed here in 1989 after police confiscation from its original illegally placed location on Wall Street.

photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky

Related places:
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    Bowling Green Associates LP
    View Details and Book

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