It may be known as a concrete canyon filled with sky-high towers and taxi-packed avenues, but New York City has plenty of reprieve from the bricks-and-mortar. Around 14 per cent of the city is covered in lusciously leafy spaces, luring visitors when the mercury is high and the picnics are packed, and these top 10 New York green spaces are no exception.
1. Central Park
The green queen of Manhattan, Central Park is New York City’s superstar outdoor space with more than 800-acres of diverse plains, spectacular in every season. Central Park’s landmarks extend from the Wollman Rink to the Central Park Zoo, the Strawberry Fields memorial to the historic Loeb Boathouse. For little visitors, there are more than 20 playgrounds and a calliope carousel whirling along to classic melodies.
2. The High Line
In a verdant display of urban renewal, the High Line is an elevated park that adorns an abandoned railway trestle above Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing District. Once alive with industrial white noise and locomotion, today the High Line is a place of quiet respite with chaise lounges and picnic spots nestled among the gardens, public art installations and food carts.
3. Brooklyn Bridge Park
If you’ve ever been entranced by glorious panoramas of the Manhattan skyline, chances are the shots were snapped from the vantage point of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1. This transformed section of the Brooklyn waterfront in Dumbo is adding to its already popular playgrounds, bike trails and grassy knolls, with a roller rink, retro court games and picnic tables scheduled for mid-2014.
4. Prospect Park
Brooklyn’s Prospect Park was the sequel to Central Park, with creators Vaux and Olmsted even claiming it to be an improvement on its precursor. Similar to Central, Prospect is embellished with dreamy meadows, rambling pathways and a majestic boathouse. Visit in summer to ‘Celebrate Brooklyn’ at New York’s longest-running free outdoor performing arts festival.
5. Flushing Meadows Corona Park
See the world according to Queens at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park, with its centrepiece the iconic Unisphere sculpture – the world’s largest globe since 1939. Queens may play third fiddle to the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, but it’s a big hitter when it comes to sports – Flushing Meadows Park hosts the U.S. Open and is also the homeground of the New York Mets.
6. Greenacre Park
One of many ‘secret gardens’ in New York City, Greenacre Park is a pocket of tranquillity hidden in Midtown, abounding in azaleas, rhododendrons and other fragrant blooms. Greenacre’s glittering focal point is a 25-foot-high waterfall, which brings a bit of zen to the workdays of office dwellers who take their lunch at the tables that fill this secluded spot.
7. Elevated Acre
Find the elusive elevator at 55 Water Street in the Financial District and prepare to be left mouth agape. The Elevated Acre is another of New York’s lesser-known al fresco spaces designed to add some greenery to an otherwise slate city. This landscaped rooftop garden overlooks the East River all the way to Brooklyn Heights as well as the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.
8. Battery Park
Perched on the southern tip of the island of Manhattan, historic Battery Park is a small but spectacular outdoor pouch neatly adorned with gardens, memorials and monuments. One of Battery’s biggest draws is its winning waterfront view all the way out to the Statue of Liberty, plus its scenic cycle link-up with Riverside Park via the Hudson River Greenway.
9. Hudson River Park
Snaking from the West Village down to Lower Manhattan, Hudson River Park is one of the city’s most comprehensive green spaces: mini-golf, dog runs, trapeze, beach volleyball, rock climbing... well, you get the gist. Hudson River Park is still growing too, with 13 revamped piers and more on the way which will see further food sellers, markets and cultural affairs.
10. Riverside Park
Visit Riverside Park, tracing Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and take a scenic two-wheeled tour along the banks of the Hudson River. Designed by the same green-minded geniuses who shaped Central and Prospect Parks, four-mile Riverside is all about recreation, hosting serious cyclists, baseballers, skateboarders and even kayakers. Riverside Park is also one of only eight official ‘scenic landmarks’ in NYC.
Words by Ashton Rigg