View Full Version : Bryant Park

April 17th, 2003, 09:29 AM
April 17, 2003
In Bryant Park, Hawks Are Circling and the Pigeons Are Nervous

A hawk employed to scare the pigeons at Bryant Park appeared to buzz and at least startle Kazuya Hasegawa, a parkgoer, on Tuesday. Falcons may soon join the project.

In Tuesday morning a man with a shaggy blond beard arrived in Bryant Park and began shaking a dead chick in the air, smiling giddily to himself. Passers-by steered clear.

Then, like a sign from the heavens, a large brown bird of prey fluttered down and landed on the man's gloved hand.

"Oh my god, it's an eagle!" one woman shrieked. "No, it's a Harris hawk," said the man, who was neither a wandering lunatic nor a seer but a licensed falconer named Thomas Cullen. He and his hawk were scaring — not eating — pigeons, which have been flocking to the park in growing numbers and treating it like a vast private outhouse.

"One of the main complaints we receive is people who get hit by pigeon droppings in the park," said Jerome Barth, operations director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation. Poisoning pigeons in the park — what you might call the Tom Lehrer solution — is illegal. So the founder of the corporation, Daniel A. Biederman, did some research and learned that city officials in London use falcons to keep pigeons away from the Tower of London.

Mr. Biederman looked around to see if someone could do the same thing in New York, and discovered Mr. Cullen, who suggested a weeklong experiment that started on Monday. If it succeeds, he will continue scaring pigeons on a more permanent basis, with help from other falconers, Mr. Cullen said.

His modus operandi is simple. The hawks — which he uses for hunting squirrels, rabbits and pheasants near his home in Goshen, N.Y. — are trained to follow him like dogs. Starting about 9 a.m., he walks slowly around the park's rim, luring the bird with dead chicks to make sure it trails him. The hawk could easily kill the slow-moving pigeons, but is not trained to do so, he said.

"What we're trying to do," Mr. Cullen said, "is tie into millions of years of evolution that says, if you're a prey species, you really don't want to be under a predator."

He flicked his wrist to demonstrate, and the bird — its name is Starbuck — flapped into the trees, with a jingle from the bell attached to one of its talons. Instantly, a dozen pigeons scattered to the park's far side. When the hawk grows tired or disoriented, Mr. Cullen takes it back to a van parked on 40th Street to rest and brings out another one from a white metal crate. If the project continues next week, he will use trained falcons as well.

The hawks are not the only birds of prey in the area: a peregrine falcon nests under the M in the MetLife building, not far from the park's northeast corner. But that bird usually hunts only once a day, leaving the pigeons in peace the rest of the time, Mr. Cullen said. The idea behind his program is to terrify the pigeons on such a regular basis that they eventually stop roosting and feeding in Bryant Park. "We're trying to build their stress level," he said, "until they don't find it favorable to stay here."

The hawks find their new urban environment a little stressful, too. At lunchtime one of them unexpectedly disappeared high above the park. To find it, Mr. Cullen brought out a scary-looking device that receives radio signals from transmitters attached to the birds' talons.

"Is he looking for some nuclear or biological device?" one man asked, glancing nervously at the spiny metal receiver.

The receiver traced the bird, and eventually Bill Ponder, another falconer who was helping out, retrieved the bird from the roof of a nearby 14-story building with the assistance of a friendly superintendent.

It is too early to say for sure if the anti-pigeon program is working, Mr. Cullen said, since the idea is to alter the pigeons' behavior for the long term. It is certainly keeping the pigeons far from the hawk. And it is delighting the throngs of people who walk through the park or eat lunch there. Almost every time the hawk came down from the trees and landed on Mr. Cullen's hand, a group would form to admire its rust-colored shoulders, white tail and alert brown eyes.

Mr. Cullen would explain what he was doing, and say a few words about hawks. In open country, they can recognize prey or another raptor from miles away. Unlike falcons, they strike their prey on the ground. They kill like pythons, choking their prey with strong talons, not with their beaks.

The crowd listened raptly. "We don't get many wildlife lectures in Bryant Park," said Linda Durtschi, 41, a legal secretary who works nearby.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

April 17th, 2003, 10:46 AM
Excellent, I have to check it out.

August 6th, 2003, 10:27 PM
Hawks are intelligent and frendly birds without any fear-circuitry in their brains. This makes them especially beautiful to humans. So any hawk story is a good story.

August 6th, 2003, 11:00 PM
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com

Hawks grounded in Bryant Park after Chihuahua attack

Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, August 6th, 2003

Fearful of tiny dogs turning into hawk hors d'oeuvres, officials on Wednesday grounded an anti-pigeon campaign employing the winged predators after one of the birds attacked a Chihuahua in Bryant Park.
"I hope there's some way to keep the program going," said Daniel Biederman, executive director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corp. "We want to take another look to make sure something doesn't happen again."

The program, considered a success since its April launch, was suspended Wednesday afternoon. Biederman said a final decision was expected by the end of the week on firing or rehiring the hawks, although city Parks Department officials called for its end.

"We place the safety of park users, including their pets, over any minor inconvenience that may be caused by pigeons," said Parks spokeswoman Megan Sheekey.

The hawks' first ugly encounter in four months came Tuesday afternoon in the midtown park's northwest corner, where the diminutive dog was poking around in the bushes while out for a walk with its owner.

The 18-inch hawk, with its 45-inch wingspan, swooped down and gouged the Chihuahua with one of its talons.

"I sincerely believe the bird mistook it for a rat because it was in the shrubbery," said Thomas Cullen, the falconer hired to run the program. The hawks patrolled the park four hours a day, five days a week, trying to frighten away the ubiquitous pigeons.

The hawk, which weighs less than two pounds, was quickly separated from the pooch. A park employee flagged down a passing cab, which took the injured dog, its owner and a friend to a veterinarian's office, said Richard Dillon, vice president of security for Bryant Park.

Galan — the hawk's name — was quickly taken out of service and returned to Cullen's headquarters in Goshen, N.Y.

The Bryant Park group picked up the doctor bill, and the dog escaped with only minor injuries, said Cullen, who spoke at a news conference in the park with one of the birds perched on his left hand.

Starbuck flashed the same piercing eyes, sharp talons and bright yellow beak as its brother, Galan.

The woman called Bryant Park officials on Wednesday morning to offer thanks for their quick response to the incident, Dillon said. The woman asked that her identity remain secret.

According to Biederman, the hawk program was a winner, with pigeon infestation down 50 percent, fewer complaints from parkgoers, and less damage to flowers.

Ward Miller, a lawyer from Glen Ridge, N.J., walks through the park each day while heading to his Fifth Avenue office. He agreed that rousting the pigeons was a rousing success.

"I don't think this should be done away with because of one misstep," he said while in the park at lunchtime. "This is a great idea. It's better than the alternatives, like poison."


Ay Chihuahua!
No offense to anyone who has one of these, but a dog should look like a dog. :)

August 7th, 2003, 12:07 PM
HI all of you smart SOB's in NY... well too bad you couldn't do that to the evil people in this Country, plus the *Politician's... *just think there's rapist, murders, dead beat DAD's still walking this earth.. Cool keep up the work.. I am sure GOD loves you all ??? Doubt it but what the heck.. we all human right... Joe

August 7th, 2003, 01:07 PM
Clearly GOD loves us, after all, he gave us the Yankees!

August 8th, 2003, 07:29 AM
And to Bostonians, he bestoweth the Red Sox.

TLOZ Link5
August 9th, 2003, 01:13 PM
And to all the New York-haters, He bestoweth the inability to make a coherent post.

Freedom Tower
August 11th, 2003, 02:54 PM
Whoops, sorry my post is outdated. I just went to post the hawk attacking the dog story now.

what is maggieusa trying to say? I dont understand it either. Do you mind reposting that in english so i can read it? thanks.

(Edited by Freedom Tower at 2:56 pm on Aug. 11, 2003)

(Edited by Freedom Tower at 2:58 pm on Aug. 11, 2003)

August 11th, 2003, 03:18 PM
Rapture via rightous raptors?

Table 5
August 11th, 2003, 03:30 PM
hawks who keep pigeons AND annoying rat-based "dogs" away? is this a great idea or what?

August 11th, 2003, 03:31 PM


(Edited by Jasonik at 3:32 pm on Aug. 11, 2003)

August 13th, 2003, 08:51 PM
Quote: from Table 5 on 3:30 pm on Aug. 11, 2003
hawks who keep pigeons AND annoying rat-based "dogs" away? is this a great idea or what?

It's the best way. Don't ever give nature's job to humans.

December 10th, 2004, 11:14 AM
December 10, 2004

Lions in Front, and Ice Out Back?


An expanding roster of vendors is one draw for visitors at Bryant Park.

Hey, meet you at the Bryant Park Skating Rink.

Doesn't exist, you say? Well, brace yourself for triple-lutz double toe loops, double axels and the occasional salchow next November, if the executive director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, Daniel A. Biederman, has his way.

The overseer of the six-acre park, on city-owned land, Mr. Biederman plans to set up an Olympic-sized portable rink, Zambonis and all, on the park's lawn next November, free to everyone (or at least those who bring their own skates). The facility would be closed for the season at the end of January 2006 to make way for Fashion Week, the park's mid-February shmatte extravaganza.

Mr. Biederman is rhapsodic when he envisions the vista enveloping skaters "in the enclosure of surrounding skyscrapers and the library to the east."

Excavation and construction for any permanent rink would be fraught, since underneath the park lawn is a climate-controlled cocoon for book storage that is an extension of the stacks of the New York Public Library.

Enter the portable rink. According to Mr. Biederman, engineering surveys have determined that the weight of the trucks and tents on the grass during Fashion Week far exceeds that of a rink full of skaters. And since the lawn already has rain-and-snow-runoff drainage, Mr. Biederman said, a leak from a future ice rink would do no harm to the library stacks.

"We are looking forward to seeing the plan," said Caroline Oyama, a spokeswoman for the library.

The planned skating rink is but the flashiest pirouette of a grand new initiative to increase the use of Bryant Park in the cold. "We'd like to winterize the park, make it a park for all seasons," Mr. Biederman said.

He added that a new Bryant Park rink would not cannibalize attendance at other skating facilities "because they are really in different neighborhoods." The option of skating in Bryant Park "would create a whole new group of patrons," he predicted, referring to the 40,000 office workers adjacent to the park and the 100,000 within two blocks.

Bryant Park's landlord, the city's parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said, "We are intrigued by the idea." Would a new rink lower attendance at his department's Wollman Skating Rink or Lasker Skating Rink? "I don't think competition is a worry because Central Park is a destination location, attracting many loyal, well-established skating groups," the commissioner said. "A new rink could, in fact, be helpful in relieving overcrowding."

He added, "Competition might be more likely with Rockefeller Center." A Midtown cynosure since it first opened on Christmas day in 1936, the Rink at Rockefeller Center is seven blocks north, and charges adults $14 on weekdays and $17 on weekends, exclusive of skate rentals.

Admission at Wollman rink, on the east side of Central Park between 63rd and 64th Streets, is $8.50 for adults on weekdays and $11 on weekends. Lasker rink, in the park at 107th Street, charges $4.50 for adults. Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers, at 23rd Street and the Hudson River, charges $13.50 for adults. The Riverbank Skating Rink at 145th Street on the river charges $4.50 for adults.

Yesterday Bryant Park users were enthusiastic about the prospect of ice skating.

"Here, with all the trees, you'd feel you were skating on a pond," said Andrew Personette, 27, who designs clothes and furniture.

"Rockefeller Center is too busy - it's crazy there, so I'd rather use the rink here," said his girlfriend, Amelia Dombrowski, a 28-year-old costume designer who works less than a block from the park. (Rockefeller Center, through Steven Rubenstein, its spokesman, declined to comment on the potential competition.)

Irene Williamson, a tourist from Norfolk, England, said, "I like ice-skating, but only as long as they have enough places to sit and watch."

Last week, as part of the park's "winterization" strategy, Bryant Park furnished a jaunty, heated, green-and-white-striped tent for chess and checkers players and another for the outdoor Reading Room, the complement to the public library on the 42nd Street side of the park. Since the opening of the heated reading-room tent, it has attracted an average of 40 to 50 people per day, and 80 on sunny, mild days.

Mr. Biederman said that free admission was contingent on finding a corporate sponsor for the skating rink. In addition to a skate-rental operation, he hopes to furnish a proximate refreshment stand offering hot chocolate, the frost-fighting elixir.

In addition, Bryant Park hopes to put up a tent for those watching the merry-go-round. A hit since it opened in 2002, the carousel has been operated sporadically in winter, but will now be open weekends "and, we hope, other warm winter days," Mr. Biederman said. To attract weekday patrons, Bryant Park offers a sign-up sheet for carousel riders so that park administrators can send out e-mail reminders to hundreds of potential customers on sunny days.

Another tent has increased winter patronage: Bryant Park Grill's enclosed, heated terrace, offering park views through vinyl, added 180 seats to the 200 in the restaurant.

Cold-weather traffic has also been generated by the growing number of vendors at the park's Christmas market - officially designated Fêtes de Noël: The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park - which is "a greenmarket concept expanded to crafts," as Mr. Benepe put it, based on the popularity of Christmas marketplaces in Europe. It has grown to 120 stores this year from 80 in 2002, and its inventory has expanded beyond crafts to offer commercial merchandise from vendors like The New York Times.

Mr. Biederman said he was in discussion with the operator of the Christmas market, ID&A, to sponsor the rink. The installation of an Olympic-sized ice surface for a three-month season could cost nearly $400,000 according to a Texas-based installer and operator of seasonal facilities, IceRinkEvents.com.

The Bryant Park corporation's $4.5 million budget derives from nonpublic sources, including $1 million from concessions, $2 million from events, $750,000 from real-estate and other sponsors of the business-improvement district, and $750,000 from other sponsors and donors.

All these winter audience-builders seem to be necessary. "Attendance definitely declines in the cold weather," said Daniel Z. Gordon, 41, a groundskeeper who has had the task of "enumerating humans," as he put it, for nearly three years. Every weekday at 1:15 p.m., he works his way north from West 40th Street, tallying park visitors in imaginary squares that stretch from tree to tree; then he uses his practiced eye to estimate traffic on the walkways. He said peak attendance on nonevent days is about 6,200 in summer; the lowest turnout has been less than 100 on stormy winter days.

Many hardy cold-weather park visitors are attracted to Bryant Park by free WiFi Internet access, available since 2002, when it attracted 5,188 separate log-ons. So far this year, there have been 39,000 log-ons

Bryant Park's efforts coincide with a new winter-avidity phenomenon in the city. "Anecdotally, I think there are many more people out in the parks in winter than before," Mr. Benepe said. He thinks the workout culture has contributed to a cold-weather renaissance. "And I think another explanation," Mr. Benepe added, "is that people feel safe."

And despite all the attention given to global warming, Mr. Benepe promised "our biggest winter festival ever, two days instead of one," he said, referring to the celebration on Jan. 8 and 9 in the East Meadow, where the entrance is at 99th Street and Fifth Avenue. Ski-resort operators will provide artificial snow, and visitors will be encouraged to try free snowshoeing, snow-tubing and even snow-sculpting.

What else is next? The indefatigable Mr. Biederman has summoned up 100 new green chairs from France fitted with writing surfaces and cupholders; 1,000 more are on order.

Why not just relax and run the park as is? "You must have new ideas to keep people coming," Mr. Biederman said. "We reclaimed this park, and we must continue to make it an exciting place.

Plans are brewing for a portable ice skating rink like the one in Cleveland's Public Square.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
December 10th, 2004, 04:24 PM
Since the rink would not be permanent, I think that it's a great way to make use of the park's lawn in winter. I'm all for it.

December 10th, 2004, 04:42 PM
I could put up a rink for $250,000.If I put half an effort into it I could probably find 1,100 green chairs with writing surface and cupholders right here in the USA.I might even be able to narrow it down to New York State.

August 4th, 2005, 10:42 AM


TLOZ Link5
August 5th, 2005, 11:08 PM
When I was there on Thursday, the grass on the southwest corner of the lawn had ben worn down to nothing. Is that normal for this time of year? How often is the lawn reseeded?

October 6th, 2005, 10:00 AM
Bryant Park Forecast: Ice in October

By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=TIMOTHY WILLIAMS&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=TIMOTHY WILLIAMS&inline=nyt-per)October 6, 2005


The Bryant Park lawn, well known for its pristine grass and the near-perfect bodies that lounge upon it in summer, will soon also be known for the blades gliding across it in winter.

The Pond at Bryant Park, scheduled to open on Oct. 28, will be a portable, Olympic-size rink large enough for 500 skaters to pirouette upon (or slip and fall) among the high-rises of Midtown Manhattan.

A rarity among the handful of ice rinks in Manhattan, it will have no admission charge, and organizers hope it will attract crowds during the winter when the park is nearly empty.

"It's freezing out there from Nov. 1 to March 31 and sometimes later - and so for five months we do nothing," said Daniel A. Biederman, executive director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation. "So we said, 'Let's make Bryant Park usable in the winter.' "

Despite the presence of skating rinks nearby at Rockefeller Center and in Central Park, Mr. Biederman is counting on the population of about 80,000 office workers in the 10-block area around Bryant Park, combined with tourists and visitors to the New York Public Library next door, to fill the rink. On many winter days, particularly weekends, there are long waits at both Wollman Rink in Central Park and the rink at Rockefeller Center.

"People are jumping all over themselves to have more ice in Manhattan," said Ethan Lercher, Bryant Park's director of events. The rink will end its season on Jan. 15, when it will close to make way for the annual spring fashion shows held in the park.

Frank O'Connell/The New York Times

The Bryant Park rink will take two weeks to put into place and cost $4 million.
At 17,000 square feet, it will be about half the size of the Wollman Rink
in Central Park and twice as big as the rink at Rockefeller Center.
The rink ends its season on Jan. 15.

In interviews, the rink's organizers take pains to say that their pond will in no way compete with its neighbors, which have been New York institutions for years.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe agreed. "Wollman Rink in Central Park is often very crowded at peak hours," Mr. Benepe said in an e-mail message. "We don't believe at this point visitation there will be diminished, and in any event, the public good of another skating venue, especially without large capital and expense costs to the city, outweighs any potential marginal loss of income."

The Parks Department operates Wollman Rink with the Trump Organization.

"We are also anxious to see how well the temporary rink technology works," Mr. Benepe said in the e-mail message, "to see if we can try this out in other areas of the city where local elected officials have suggested installing rinks."
A Rockefeller Center spokeswoman said the center was happy to see more ice. "We think a rink at Bryant Park will be a great addition to what New York City has to offer as a winter wonderland," said the spokeswoman, Suzanne Halpin. "Welcome!"

The Bryant Park rink, which will take two weeks to put in place and cost $4 million, will measure 17,000 square feet - about half the size of Wollman and about twice the size of the Rockefeller Center rink. The temporary rink will be put directly onto Bryant Park's sod, necessitating that the lawn's crown - built to keep rain and snow melt from pooling - be flattened first. The rink's three-inch surface of ice will be laid atop layers of plastic and foam.

Mr. Biederman originally considered placing a more permanent rink in the park, but engineers concluded that a portable facility would have to do, given that the public library's underground annex sits directly below the park in a climate-controlled setting to help preserve its books.

Library officials had originally not been keen on the idea of an ice rink in their backyard, but the library now says it has no objection.

"We have closely reviewed the plans for the Bryant Park ice rink to make sure its installation is safe for the library's collections and building," Herb Scher, the library's spokesman, said in a statement. "The concerns we've raised are being addressed, and we know that Bryant Park, with its views of the library's Beaux-Arts facade, will provide a beautiful setting for skating this winter."

One consideration was the weight of the rink, but engineers determined that a portable rink, even with a 6,000-pound Zamboni ice-cleaning machine and a rink full of skaters, would still weigh less than a typical crowd at the fall and spring fashion shows at which the park is host each year.

While Wollman, Rockefeller Center and Manhattan's other ice skating rinks charge admission fees, the Bryant Park rink will be free, as long as you bring your own skates. (Skate rentals there will be $7.50 a day.)

By comparison, when the rink at Rockefeller Center opens on Saturday, adults will be charged a $13 fee on Fridays through Sundays and holidays, plus a $7 charge for renting skates for an hour and a half of skating. After Dec. 17, the admission fee will rise to $17 for adults plus $8 for skate rentals.
At Wollman, which opens on Oct. 15, the charge will be $11 for adult weekend skating and $3.75 to rent skates.

Mr. Biederman first came up with the idea for a rink in Bryant Park in the mid-1990's, but it was dropped because the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, which operates the park, could not afford it. The proposal was revisited in 2001 but dropped again.

"We said, 'We'll figure it out someday'; we never give up on an idea," Mr. Biederman said.

This year, the organization paired with ID&A L.L.C., a New York company that operates Bryant Park's holiday market, which was able to negotiate a corporate sponsorship deal with Citigroup. Texas (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/texas/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)-based IceRinkEvents.com (http://icerinkevents.com/) will install and operate the rink.

"The business concept is this helps the market and the market helps this," Mr. Biederman said. "It all creates an ambience that this is the place to be, and the 'wow factor' it gives us means the park will be more operationally successful."

In Midtown, Kendra Andrews, 24, who goes ice skating two or three times each winter, said she would go more often if it were more affordable. "Where I'm from in Canada (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/canada/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), you don't pay; you go to the pond with your skates and that's that," she said. "An outdoor place for free skating would be wonderful."

Her friend, Brian Drew, 27, said he had never tried ice skating but was willing to give it a shot, adding, "There's not much excuse anymore if it's free and it's right in the middle of Midtown Manhattan."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 6th, 2005, 12:57 PM
The people who run this park seem to do everything right.

Then again, the rest of New York's park system's pretty good too. Something to be proud of.

October 6th, 2005, 05:30 PM
The people who run this park seem to do everything right.

Well, if you enjoy the fact that it's often pimped out to fashion moguls and other exclusive access events which turn it into the equivalent of a gated and locked Grammercy Park moreso than a public square...

October 6th, 2005, 05:49 PM
Well, if you enjoy the fact that it's often pimped out to fashion moguls and other exclusive access events which turn it into the equivalent of a gated and locked Grammercy Park moreso than a public square...
Fine with me; gets them the funds to keep it just so. Every time I'm there I think I'm in Paris.

October 6th, 2005, 06:23 PM
I thought the idea of the public-private partnership in these cases was that most of the funds came from local businesses eager to improve the condition of their environment. That should be well enough, considering the formidable corporations which surround the park. Further concessions by the public sphere are superfluous.

October 6th, 2005, 07:54 PM
Remember back to what Bryant Park was like in the bad old days?

For a flashback get the Andy Warhol / Paul Morrissey film "FLESH" ; some scenes shot around Bryant Park 1968:

http://images.overstock.com/f/102/3117/8h/www.overstock.com/images/products/muze/dvd/249011.jpg (http://www.overstock.com/cgi-bin/d2.cgi?page=proframe&prod_id=1627643#)



November 6th, 2005, 11:02 PM
NY1 News
Lace Up Your Skates For A Free Spin On Bryant Park's New Rink
October 29, 2005

That chill in the air means ice skating season is upon New York and now there's a new place to strap on your skates.

A new free rink opened Friday in Bryant Park.

The Rangers and performers from the Big Apple circus were on hand for the event.

"This is great. I work across the street, and for several years now they've had the holiday village. And this is just the perfect accent to the holiday village," said one enthusiast.

"It allows people to not be fearful and to just have fun," added another. "And it's something that's romantic. You can just get out here and you can feel the ambience of the city, and you're actually, it kind of brings, like a Midwest. All of a sudden you've got the pond right in the middle, dropped in for the holidays."

The portable, $4 million, Olympic-size rink is free to use thanks to the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation. Skate rentals run $7.50.

Bryant Park's skating season will end in mid-January to make room for the spring fashion show tents.

November 21st, 2005, 04:07 PM
Ahh, 6th Avenue and 42nd street is developing to fast, good for you guys, but not so good for me. Soon there will be a tall ass skyscraper on the corner, another one at least. What are they building there anyways?

November 21st, 2005, 06:54 PM
go here: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3548

December 5th, 2005, 07:54 AM
December 5, 2005

In Manhattan Park's Rebirth, Unease at Corporate Presence

By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=TIMOTHY WILLIAMS&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=TIMOTHY WILLIAMS&inline=nyt-per)
During the late 1980's, when Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan was frequented by more drug dealers than sunbathers, the city turned the park's management over to a private group to try to revitalize a public space that many thought of as a lost cause.

That group, the nonprofit Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, helped transform the park into one of the city's most heavily used and beloved public spaces. But a major concern has come with the transformation: that Bryant Park is being operated in such a businesslike fashion - including charging fees for holding events, and allowing corporate sponsorships - that it barely seems like a public space anymore.

"It's come to the point where it impinges on the park to be used in a public sense," said Vikki Barbero, a neighborhood resident who is vice chairwoman of Community Board 5, a neighborhood advisory board.

No one can deny that the park is more beautiful and accessible than it was 20 years ago, and many of the events that take place in it are open to the public - if seats are available. Nevertheless, even though Bryant Park receives no public financing, the heavy rotation of private events has raised questions about how a park in the middle of the city can best serve the people. There are suggestions that Bryant Park has reached the saturation point and indications that the number of events in it may be reduced.

Similar complaints have been lodged in recent years at other parks, including Union Square and Madison Square Parks. Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, Democrat of Manhattan, expressed concern at what he called a trend toward commercialization in parks.

"Parks have never in this city's history been thought of as entities that would fund themselves, and I think that's a dangerous concept," Mr. Gottfried said. "This takes us way down the road of a public park becoming a theme park."

No park managers have embraced commercialism with the enthusiasm of the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, which runs the only public park in the city that receives no public money.

In the past few months, Bryant Park has played host to Fashion Week, sponsored by Olympus; summer movies underwritten by HBO; a concert series put on by ABC; and a book fair supported by The New York Times. Much of the eight-acre park is currently occupied by a privately operated holiday market and by an ice-skating rink sponsored by Citi. Each sponsor generally pays a rental fee and is allowed to post its corporate name as part of the event.

There are so many requests for private events that the corporation employs a small staff to sort through applications seeking permits for corporate parties, family celebrations and promotional events for new products, including Microsoft Windows Media Edition and Coffee-Mate, which had representatives dressed in cow suits passing out samples last spring. The fees vary, depending on factors including whether the event is open to the public.

Also, parts of the park - which is at Avenue of the Americas and 42nd Street, behind the New York Public Library - are closed at times to accommodate film and video crews. Commercial photographers are assessed hourly fees, determined in part by the "publicity potential for Bryant Park," the park's Web site says. Even the park's carousel can be rented for birthday parties or corporate events.

Daniel A. Biederman, executive director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, said the events were necessary to produce revenue for park operations and to keep the park in use year-round. As part of its 1985 operating agreement with the city, the corporation is given wide latitude in financing park operations through commercial events.

"Most of the events in the park are free and open to everyone," Mr. Biederman said. "The concerts and movies often have a name attached, but so what? The public gets to go for free."

Mr. Biederman, a graduate of Harvard Business School who is also president of both the Bryant Park Management Corporation and the 34th Street Partnership, said that on most days the park has only a few conspicuous sponsorships, including a half-dozen signs saying that the free wireless access in the park is sponsored by Google.

"We understand there are people who come to the park as an escape, who are sensitive to commercial intrusions, and we try to be sensitive to that," Mr. Biederman said, adding that there had been few complaints.

Mr. Biederman said most of the events and attractions brought many more people to the park than would otherwise use it - including the rink, which is free, though the private firm that operates it charges $7.50 to rent skates and $5 to rent a locker.

User fees collected by the corporation have gone from zero in 1993 to $1.7 million in 2004. Under the 1985 agreement, the city paid a relatively small amount for the park's upkeep for several years but now pays nothing. The shift to a reliance on user and restaurant fees has coincided with the doubling of Bryant Park's revenue since 1993, to $4.2 million in 2004 - even as assessments on local businesses for the upkeep of the park have been reduced.

In response for what it sees as too many commercial events, Community
Board 5 recently rejected an application for a liquor license by restaurant overlooking the ice rink.

And in a letter sent to the parks department last week, the board was critical of the multiplicity of commercial events held at Bryant Park and at Madison Square Park and said neighbors of those parks had been excluded from the decision-making process. "The conservancies that run Madison Square Park and Bryant Park need to be reminded that these are public parklands, not private revenue-generating venues," wrote David Diamond, chairman of the board.

William T. Castro, the borough commissioner of parks, said the city's Department of Parks and Recreation supported Bryant Park's management, but he added that the number of events at the park was likely to be reduced.

"I'm pretty confident that will be addressed," he said. "They run a very good park, but they can always do better."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

December 14th, 2005, 12:15 PM
I stopped by the Bryant Park holiday festival a couple of times since last friday and I loved it. I wanted to find a vendor list online somehow, so I can track stuff that I bought already. I'm having such a hard time, do you think you can help?

December 14th, 2005, 12:27 PM
They have a website at http://www.fetesdenoel.com/ but no list of vendors

February 15th, 2006, 12:23 AM
Snow in Bryant Park (http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/bryant_park/). 12 February 2006.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/bryant_park/bryant_park_snow.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/bryant_park/)

February 15th, 2006, 01:24 AM
Great photo.

February 15th, 2006, 05:31 PM
Thats the best photo of the snow Ive seen.

February 15th, 2006, 06:01 PM
^ Agreed. Bryant Park always looks good.

April 4th, 2006, 05:02 AM
April 4, 2006
A Resplendent Park Respite, Mosaic Tiles Included

After two months and $200,000 in renovations, including a copper urn for fresh flowers, the restroom next to the New York Public Library in Bryant Park is set to reopen Tuesday.

To call it a bathroom, perhaps, gives insufficient respect to a landmarked 95-year-old building that reopens today in Bryant Park after two months and $200,000 of renovations.

"It is, in every way, a comfort station," the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said about the new interior of the building on 42nd Street that, he said, was the best-known and most-used public bathroom in any city park. "No, it's sort of like the Oyster Bar — transplanted into a park."

The free bathroom, which closed on Jan. 15, will reopen without fanfare — no speeches, politicians or even a ceremonial toilet-paper-cutting.

"Look, it's a just a restroom," said Daniel A. Biederman, executive director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation.

But as the grandest of the park system's 600 bathrooms, "it is an inspiration for us," Mr. Benepe said. Its renovation was completed not by his department, but rather by the nonprofit restoration corporation that operates the park for the city. "It sets the gold standard for park comfort stations."

The Baths of Caracalla it is not, but the new interior has grand 10-foot coffered ceilings, mosaic tiles, a crown molding of painted wood, illumination from brushed stainless-steel wall sconces, indirect cove lighting, a wainscoting of mosaic vines and flowers, mirrors framed in cherry wood and, yes, sinks and a baby-changing table capped with Bianco Verde marble from India.

Last year the bathroom, which is in the backyard of the New York Public Library, had 612,683 visitors and was used by 300 patrons an hour on peak afternoons. Studies have shown that about two-thirds of those using the bathroom are not park users.

So far, its lavishness has drawn little condemnation. Even members of Community Board 5, who in the past have harassed the restoration corporation over such issues as crowd control at its movie nights and music volume during events — and who most recently took exception to commercialism and corporate sponsorship in the park — have not put the bathroom in their cross hairs.

David Diamond, the community board's chairman, said there was no record of deliberations about the restroom by the board, adding that he thought "it's good that it's there."

But is a $200,000 bathroom, well, too too? "It seems like a lot of money," Mr. Biederman said, "but when you'll be having more than three million visitors over five years — when it'll need restoration again — that's only 6 cents per use. That's not unwarranted, I think."

Bryant Park "has consistently pushed the envelope as to how refined a park can be," Mr. Benepe said, adding that the Department of Parks and Recreation "can aspire to this level in our bathrooms, although we probably won't go as far as the cut flowers."

Indeed, a large coppery urn of fresh flowers will decorate the entry vestibule of the bathroom.

Mr. Benepe said that his department has embarked on a campaign to restore its bathrooms and retrofit them to increase accessibility for the disabled. "We're making a concerted effort to make sure park comfort stations are open, decent and clean," he said. "You know, we have an informal motto — we actually say this in our meetings — it's our business to help New Yorkers do theirs."

The commissioner gave high marks to the Central Park Conservancy for refurbishing bathrooms in that park. Some park restrooms have especially high usage — such as "the one by the Delacorte Theater in Shakespeare season, and the one in Battery Park near the tour boats," he said — but the Bryant Park building "is on 42nd Street, the crossroads of the world," he added. "People use it day-in, day-out, fair weather or foul."

The 25-foot-long, 18-foot-wide building was designed by the architects John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings when they created the public library on Fifth Avenue. The inspiration for the bathroom's new interior was "the facilities in luxury hotels like the Regency, the Plaza, the Waldorf and the St. Regis," Mr. Biederman said.

Given the building's Beaux Arts exterior, it was decided not to renovate the interior in a contemporary way, "since we wanted a more traditional look of rich materials, mosaics, marble and woods," Mr. Biederman said.

The bathroom has had, and will continue to have, a full-time attendant and a security guard nearby. It has been a mainstay of Midtown for about 15 years, since the restoration corporation opened it in the early 1990's after seeking to banish drug dealers, bellicose inebriates and homeless habitués from the park. Mr. Biederman said the bathroom had been continuously open from its initial construction until the mid-1960's, when disrepair brought about its closing for some 25 years.

In the 1990's "it had to be reopened, because there was no way we could invite thousands of people into our park and not have a bathroom for them," Mr. Biederman said. "But soon we realized we were taking on the burden of all the people in mid-Manhattan who needed a bathroom."

Thanks to overuse, the restroom's contemporary black-and-white tiles had become grayish, its facilities were worn, "and it felt grim," Mr. Biederman said. The roof needed to be replaced and its exterior mortar needed repointing.

In the final stages of the renovation, even construction workers expressed surprise at the building.

"There's so much attention to detail," said Joe Brescher, who was inspecting the tiles on a recent afternoon. "It's the nicest restroom I've ever worked on."

He pointed proudly to the wainscoting cap of green tile. "This is high end."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

May 24th, 2006, 03:50 PM

City Strips in Bryant Park

May 23, 2006 – May 26, 2006

Fountain Terrace



Orange, green and blue circular patterns surround the fountain and down the steps toward 6th Avenue to create a dazzling display of color. A site-specific art installation project featuring color strips on the ground of iconic locations in 10 global cities launches in Bryant Park.

City Strips begins Motorola’s worldwide marketing campaign for the new color PEBL phone. Click here (http://www.motorola.com/mediacenter/news/detail.jsp?globalObjectId=6566_6529_23) for more information about the color PEBL phones.

Return to the Bryant Park calendar (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/may.php).

© 2003 Bryant Park Restoration Corporation

May 24th, 2006, 04:14 PM
Those strips are gross, tacky and quite sickening.

They are done in a way similar to the In-Your-Face At-Your-Feet walkway adspace that has been featured in the PATH and other systems the past few years.

I was wondering who put that crap up, now I know.

May 24th, 2006, 09:04 PM
Relax, they're just having a little fun. It's just temporary and is something interesting and different. Besides, with art, we should always have an open mind.
I myself, aren't too crazy about its looks either. It's got that 60's and 70's psychedelic and polyester sort of feel to it.

May 24th, 2006, 10:16 PM
Besides, with art, we should always have an open mind.



May 24th, 2006, 11:57 PM
^ Which is the way that NYC has figured out to keep many of its parks nice & pretty (private funding vs. your tax dollars).

May 25th, 2006, 02:13 AM


Advertising...Why not? Are they mutually exclusive?

August 16th, 2006, 06:40 PM
Afternoon Arias in Bryant Park.

The sun arrived on cue.
http://img521.imageshack.us/img521/9744/bryantpark01py8.th.jpg (http://img521.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bryantpark01py8.jpg) http://img45.imageshack.us/img45/6108/bryantpark02mu9.th.jpg (http://img45.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bryantpark02mu9.jpg) http://img521.imageshack.us/img521/9231/bryantpark03tb1.th.jpg (http://img521.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bryantpark03tb1.jpg) http://img69.imageshack.us/img69/2095/bryantpark04gw4.th.jpg (http://img69.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bryantpark04gw4.jpg)

There will be performances on Thursday Aug 17 and Friday Aug 18 at 12:30 PM.

Nice way to have lunch if you're in Midtown.

August 16th, 2006, 06:53 PM
Why not? Are they mutually exclusive?
Yes. Art and advertising are mutually exclusive.

They have different goals. Advertising is a form of propaganda, and propaganda, however seductive, is never art.

August 16th, 2006, 07:14 PM
Advertising is a form of propaganda, and propaganda, however seductive, is never art.

Isn't it? Are you discounting political propoganda? Portraits of Hitler, Stalin? Oh, I see what you're saying. A true artist wouldn't create one of those and consider it art.

But...then there are always works like Guernica.

August 16th, 2006, 07:50 PM
Guernica wasn't propaganda; it was deeply felt and personal, and it wasn't done at the behest of a corporation or a government.

17th Century Italian religious painting skates closer to being propaganda; though it's spectacular, you might allow yourself to wonder if the ceiling of Il Gesu is really art. The folks who painted many of those things were into sodomy and lucre. Some might claim it shows in the paintings. Guido Reni, anyone? Marvel comics.

August 16th, 2006, 08:21 PM
Guernica is probably not a good example, but how about Andy Warholl's Campbell's Soup Cans? Warholl intentionally blurred the line between art and advertising. On the other hand, can a brilliant ad qualify as art (e.g., some Absolut ads)?

August 16th, 2006, 08:50 PM
^ Ads are contracted in advance and paid for by the advertiser. Warhol did Campbell soup cans on his own intiative, and his intention was not to promote soup.

If doing advertising, he would have been told how to do it by his account manager and his art director. You would have been able to read the fine print on the can, and there would have been an additional print message.

August 17th, 2006, 09:19 AM
^Not in Absolut ads. The only requirement is that the general shape of the bottle be included. The rest is up to the artist.

August 17th, 2006, 11:20 PM
Guernica wasn't propaganda; it was deeply felt and personal, and it wasn't done at the behest of a corporation or a government.

Perhaps propoganda was not the most appropriate word to use, as the painting was a reaction to the horror of the events that inspired it. However, it was indeed commissioned by the Spanish government, specifically for the Paris International Exposition. It was as much a personal expression of emotional outrage as a political outcry to the rest of the world on behalf of Spain.

In any case, I think there is a line, although a very fine one, between advertising and propoganda. It allows the former no possibility of ascending to the realm of art, while making it that much harder to decide the latter's fate.

August 17th, 2006, 11:24 PM
...Absolut ads. The only requirement is that the general shape of the bottle be included. The rest is up to the artist.
Solidly in the realm of graphics.

August 17th, 2006, 11:32 PM
Perhaps propoganda was not the most appropriate word to use, as the painting was a reaction to the horror of the events that inspired it. However, it was indeed commissioned by the Spanish government, specifically for the Paris International Exposition. It was as much a personal expression of emotional outrage as a political outcry to the rest of the world on behalf of Spain.
Interesting, pianoman, that it was commissioned by a government; but there's a good chance, imo, Picasso would have painted it on his own initiative. He's hard to see here as a hired gun, like a Milton Glaser. More like Michelangelo at the Sistine Ceiling: paid for by the powers-that-be, but still a work of personal conviction.

August 18th, 2006, 08:47 AM
Exactly. That's why I see the line, in this case, as harder to define than say, the line between an Absolut ad.

September 20th, 2006, 11:59 PM
No Fashion Cheers for Lincoln Center

GOOD OLD DAYS? Fashion Week may be forced out of Bryant Park as early as next season.


Published: September 21, 2006

THE landlord-tenant dispute between Bryant Park and IMG, the owner of New York Fashion Week, looks increasingly likely to end with the eviction of the event from its Midtown home. The likelihood has left the fashion business grappling with the reality of a move to smaller quarters for the fall 2007 shows in February.

Lincoln Center is one replacement that has been explored, with disappointing results: tents on opposite sides of the New York State Theater with a winding corridor between would require guests to walk the equivalent of a city block between shows.

And looking at a conceptual drawing of what the runway shows would be like at Lincoln Center, as opposed to Bryant Park, is like comparing a studio apartment with a classic six. Even on paper, the layout is cramped, weirdly shaped, lacking closet space and hardly conducive to an ambience of luxury.

“Nothing else is as good,” said Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, who said she has written to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg asking him to intervene to keep the shows in Bryant Park, at least until a viable alternative can be identified. “The fashion industry should be taken seriously. The mayor should give us the respect we deserve.”

There is even talk of a Manolo Mile: editors and designers disgruntled enough about moving out of the park, where the shows have taken place since 1993 (with the exception of a season at Chelsea Piers), to march on City Hall. But the impasse between IMG and the park management seems too great to overcome.

“It doesn’t surprise me they are fiercely fighting to stay,” said Dan Biederman, the president of the Bryant Park Corporation. “They’re used to the park, but the truth is, they have really outgrown the park. Right now they are at the edge of the gardens.”

Mr. Biederman and Fern Mallis, a vice president of IMG, have waged a decadelong battle over the fashionable image the shows lend to Bryant Park versus the public’s right to park access.

This year, IMG began looking at other sites with the expectation that the shows could be a bigger media event than they already are. But Mr. Biederman’s eviction notice caught it off guard, an IMG spokesman said. A study of Lincoln Center then under way assumed that neighboring spaces would be available for the fashion shows, but it turns out those are being developed by Fordham University.

“If our initial opportunity to be there sounded great, it’s not matching up to the shape that we hoped,” the spokesman said. “Until we find a bigger venue, we need to stay in a venue that works.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

September 21st, 2006, 07:37 AM
Plenty of space in Central Park.

What's wrong with Javits?

September 21st, 2006, 09:48 AM
Plenty of space in Central Park.

ha ha ... they hardly let everyday NYers walk on the grass there, let alone all those leggy ladies in ther spike heels.

What's wrong with Javits?

lack of easy access -- maybe once they get that 7-Line extension in place.

September 21st, 2006, 10:11 AM
lack of easy access -- maybe once they get that 7-Line extension in place.
Can you believe that? A convention center you can't get to!!

Must have been cooked up by Spitzer.

A bozocracy.

September 21st, 2006, 11:31 AM
“The fashion industry should be taken seriously. The mayor should give us the respect we deserve.”

Hehehe. That is funny.



There is even talk of a Manolo Mile: editors and designers disgruntled enough about moving out of the park, to march on City Hall. But the impasse between IMG and the park management seems too great to overcome.

Actually, they will never march on City Hall.

There is no runway.

“It doesn’t surprise me they are fiercely fighting to stay,” said Dan Biederman, the president of the Bryant Park Corporation. “They’re used to the park, but the truth is, they have really outgrown the park. Right now they are at the edge of the gardens.”

True, the show was frigging HUGE. I am wondering how the lawn survived.

Mr. Biederman and Fern Mallis, a vice president of IMG, have waged a decadelong battle over the fashionable image the shows lend to Bryant Park versus the public’s right to park access.

Fasionable image? It looked like a convention being held. No matter WHAT convention it was, it did not lend any aire of respectablity to the park. It looked like a sell-out to me.

I understand their need, but trying to make it seem like a vital part of NY life, commerce and culture is over-inflating an already bloated ego-bound industry.

September 21st, 2006, 11:36 AM
From Wkipedia:

The financial, insurance, and real estate industries form the basis of New York's economy. The city is also the most important center for mass media, journalism and publishing in the United States, and is the preeminent arts center in the country. Medical research, technology, and fashion are also significant sectors. Manufacturing, although declining, remains consequential.

September 21st, 2006, 12:26 PM
Clearly ^^^ the Fashion Industry should be able to (1) Pay more for using Public Space or (2) Build / Finance their own show place.

September 21st, 2006, 01:52 PM
Alb, I appreciate where they are coming from, but fashion is far from being one of the major staples of NYC.

Without it, places like SOHO would definitely suffer, but places like the East Village were fashionable not because of the fashion industry, but rather because they were NOT from the industry.

So for things like Brooks Brothers suits and Prada handbags, indeed NYC is amply supplied, but without them, or more importantly, without these shows, there is not much of a horrific impact that would be noticed that could not be filled by other industries mentioned in the same quoted passage.

The thing that gets me most about the statements being made are the ones that seem to imply that the fashion industry has some RIGHT, for just BEING the fashion industry, to be able to, um, vehemently request special treatment in regards to things like Bryant park.

I do feel for them as an industry that is out to do the best for itself and for its people, but I just cannot somehow sympathize with the hardship of an industry that pretty much relies totally on opulence for its mainstay.

It also does not help that this industry LIVES off of mankind's desire to be above the mainstream. Owning an LV bag does not mean that you bought it because somehow it fits your needs, or even matches what you wear so much as it is a definite "LOOK! I have an LV bag!!!!".

So I do hope that they find a new place to have these things, but they have no sympathy from me in the difficulty of finding one.

October 20th, 2006, 09:19 PM
Public Lives

A Park Cleans Up Its Act (Gum Removal Aside)


Published: October 20, 2006

NOT long ago, Dan Biederman, who runs the Bryant Park Corporation, was chatting with his staff about the problems that plagued the park in the dirty days of 1979. Those could be summarized as thus: drugs, rats, graffiti and the stench of urine.

The park has come a long way since then, when Mrs. Astor was, as the saying goes, “accosted by a youth” (species: Adolescentis drug-dealeum) and the Rockefeller brothers pitched a fit. They plucked Mr. Biederman from relative obscurity to fix the park, which he has done so well that it is now — at 900 people per acre per sunny day, he said — the most densely used public space on the planet.

With success, however, have come the problems of success, which in the case of Bryant Park have included a loud preacher with personal-space issues, a sukkah-dwelling rabbi who refused to go away, and Howard Dean, who held an 2004 campaign rally there, importing a graffitied backdrop to where there was no graffiti.

Then last month there was the latest: a landlord-tenant dispute, which may be the only one of its kind where you actually rooted for the landlord. IMG, the company that owns Fashion Week, got into a tussle with the park and is likely to be booted after next year’s February shows. It was determined, Mr. Biederman said, that the editors and models were simply too disruptive and needed too much space.

“We try not to whine at things that are not a big deal,” Mr. Biederman said the other day (after saying he wasn’t at all bitter about the spat, then quickly asked that his comments be stricken from the record). “And the fashion shows go under that.”

It would be hard to locate a human being less physically indicative of the high-gloss, high-attitude world of high fashion than Dan Biederman. Which is not to say Mr. Biederman lacks style. He is tall, well dressed, well spoken, wears his hair short, is bespectacled, does not look 53, attended Princeton and Harvard, lives in Chappaqua, N.Y., gets excited at the size and shape of garbage cans and hikes each summer in the Alps. His mentor was the sociologist William H. Whyte whose best known work is “The Organization Man.”

“I’m a half business, half government guy,” said Mr. Biederman, who also runs the 34th Street Partnership and has worked as the master of Bryant Park’s nine acres since 1980.

He knows everything about the place. The lawn comes from the eastern shore of Maryland, he said. The tables each cost $75. The average “dwell time” is, based on empirical observation, more than an hour during lunch and in good weather. The guy who counts the people has a pair of tallying devices: one in his left hand to tally women, one in his right to tally men.

On good days, Mr. Biederman said, 4,600 people eat lunch in the park (split nearly 50-50 men to women). Many sit on the Bryant Park Lunch Chair, a college lecture hall model with a custom cupholder. Mr. Biederman holds the patent.

It is striking, he says, the amount of arcane knowledge one can learn in the seemingly homogenous discipline of park management. One learns, for instance, that bubble gum dropped on a sidewalk takes three weeks to change from pink to black. One also learns that the three worst occasions for vandalism in New York City are New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and whenever Rangers games let out.

Then there are the odd glimpses into the city’s psyche, which mainly derive from Mr. Biederman’s own time in the park.

On gender: “Men will sit down at a table with crumbs near a pile of litter within range of the smell of someone who has just urinated. Women, on the other hand, are much more sensitive to danger, discomfort and disorder.”

On race: “Mediterranean types, blacks, Jews, Hispanics, even some Asians have a better sun tolerance than the Irish, English and Scandinavians. If there is a group of office buddies having lunch in the park, it is usually the Irish guy facing away from the sun.”

On national character: “Did you know that 67 million Americans describe themselves as amateur gardeners?”

Mr. Biederman describes his mission as “building a crowd” in Bryant Park to which end he has brought in attractions like free movies, a carousel, a piano man, an outdoor reading room and a strange commercial event this summer in which acrobats selling underwear performed a trapeze act in Jockey shorts over Avenue of the Americas.

There is also a Wollman-style ice skating rink that will open at the end of the month and would have stayed through March but for the fashionistas about whom Mr. Biederman is not bitter. In his mind the perfect crowd for Bryant Park is anyone of any race or socioeconomic group who does not spit, play a loud radio, curse within earshot of another human being or feed the pigeons.

HIS most endearing quirk may be the notebook he carries in which he jots improvements for the park. This is a constant process that reveals his love of tiny details.

Today it may be a better newspaper box or ice cream cart; tomorrow cleaner bathrooms or more closely pruned trees.

Gum removal is an ever-present problem.

“If you’re looking for a way to end this thing you can always say that right now we’re looking for someone to solve that problem in particular,” he said.

“And we’ll pay a lot of money.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

October 23rd, 2006, 10:11 AM
One also learns that the three worst occasions for vandalism in New York City are New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and whenever Rangers games let out.


November 25th, 2006, 10:37 PM
Bryant Park was looking very festive today. Hordes of people out in full force, shopping at holiday-themed booths. Reminded me of Krakow's Market Square during winter.



March 3rd, 2007, 01:24 PM
http://img47.imageshack.us/img47/5707/bryantpark05gj1.th.jpg (http://img47.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bryantpark05gj1.jpg)

March 3rd, 2007, 01:43 PM
^ Photo taken when?

March 3rd, 2007, 01:58 PM
This morning.

March 3rd, 2007, 06:30 PM
So, are we looking at the aftermath of the skating rink?

March 3rd, 2007, 07:16 PM
So, are we looking at the aftermath of the skating rink?

Maybe fashion week. Skating rink disappeared about 2 weeks ago.

March 3rd, 2007, 08:31 PM
So, are we looking at the aftermath of the skating rink?There's an earthmover on the site, so I think this is a new drainage substrate. I thought it was funny that they used a "lawn is recovering" sign, when it looks like a major repair.

Last summer, I was there after an early morning light rain, and there were several puddles on the lawn.

Across the U.S., public parks are landing private operators

New York's Bryant Park runs on commercial support. Critics warn the concept could disenfranchise the poor.

By Robert Lee Hotz
Times Staff Writer

February 11, 2007

NEW YORK — On any sunny day, thousands flock to Manhattan's Bryant Park, lured by the shaded flower beds, the carousel, the free wireless Internet and the hundreds of comfortable cafe chairs all painted the same soothing shade of ivy green.

Not even the cold can keep them away. Since October, 148,000 people have visited the seven-acre city park to skate — for free — on what many consider New York's finest outdoor public ice rink.

To some, Bryant Park is a vibrant town square. Others argue it is merely a frame for product placements.

Supported entirely by commercial sponsors and fees, Bryant Park is an ambitious experiment in the private operation of public places, one that is being watched by urban planners and city managers worldwide.

The survival of urban parkland across the country depends heavily on private largesse. Parks in Atlanta, St. Louis and Boston are managed by nonprofit foundations. In San Diego, officials are considering a private conservancy to refurbish Balboa Park. Nonprofit groups may help manage aspects of the $2-billion restoration of the Los Angeles River.

On Wednesday, President Bush announced plans to seek $1 billion in private donations to spruce up the nation's 390 federal parks and monuments.

Most of the 1,400-acre Presidio in San Francisco already is managed by a nonprofit trust rather than directly by the National Park Service. The contract requires it to be self-supporting within five years.

[b]Influence of the wealthy

But in New York, a city squeezed for open space, some activists worry that the public parks are becoming too private. They say wealthy donors may have influence over who gets access to park facilities, and efforts to make parks self-supporting can turn them into commercial developments. Civil libertarians worry that parks — New York's most democratic places — are becoming fiefs where political gatherings are discouraged.

Corporate donations, concession fees and funding plans linked to commercial development are feeding New York's most expansive park-building boom in decades.

Central Park — which gets five times as many visitors as the Grand Canyon every year — is the prototype. It is tended by a private conservancy with a staff of 300, aided by 1,300 volunteers. Donors raised $300 million to refurbish its 843 acres, and contribute $23 million a year to pay for upkeep.

With all that renovation, park planners also built in a double standard, activists say.

To protect the park's new grass, officials denied permits to antiwar groups that wanted to use the 13-acre Great Lawn for protests during the 2004 Republican National Convention, prompting lawsuits and public hearings. The New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera, however, use the same space for free summer concerts every year.

"If you walk south from Central Park, every public park you encounter is under some form of private management," said Christian DiPalermo, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, an independent citizens watchdog group.

The trend began in the 1980s as a rescue effort, with neighborhoods and business-improvement districts banding together to save parks that were decaying from government neglect.

Parks, not backyards

In few cities are people quite so passionate about public spaces.

"Unlike most cities, people in New York do not have backyards," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said. "People are absolutely dependent on parks."

All told, New York has more of its acreage in parkland than any other major city, almost a third more than Los Angeles, according to the Trust for Public Land. By Benepe's calculation, annual city spending on parks approaches $1 billion.

Still, Benepe said, "It is precisely when parks are doing well that you want to rope people in and secure the friendship and support of private citizens.

"There is no such thing as too much money."

In that spirit, New York officials are promoting two major waterfront park projects on the condition that they pay for themselves, with space set aside on public land for stores, restaurants, luxury condominiums and, in one instance, a hotel.

The 550-acre Hudson River Park is the largest open-space development in the city since the completion of Central Park, and the 1.3-mile-long Brooklyn Bridge Park would be the first major park built in the borough since 1843. Critics worry that they will become commercial malls in all but name.

At the moment, officials with the Hudson River Park Trust are weighing whether to use space for a public high school and playing fields or an entertainment complex with restaurants, a nightclub, a movie theater, a 3,500-seat event center and a performance space for Cirque du Soleil.

But as New York outsources management of its public spaces, activists and City Council members say, the result may be two park systems — one funded by wealthy neighborhoods and business districts, and the other in less-affluent areas shortchanged by wavering public support.

"This is an insidious thing," said Judi Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund. She has sued over plans to build 1,000 high-rise apartments on the Brooklyn parkland to subsidize its upkeep. "As soon as you ask a park to pay for itself, you will not have parks in poor neighborhoods," Francis said.

Community leaders worry that residents most in need may lose their local parks to those who can pay for the privilege.

On Wednesday, city officials are expected to vote on a plan to give 20 of Manhattan's wealthiest private schools exclusive after-school access to dozens of public ball fields, rather than allow them to be used by nearby public schools in East Harlem and South Bronx. The private schools would pay more than $2 million a year to use the 63 fields for 20 years.

But to Daniel A. Biederman, executive director of the Bryant Park Corp., it is public money that can't be trusted.

Alone among New York City's 1,800 parks, Bryant Park accepts none. Almost half of its $6.1 million in annual revenue comes from companies that advertise by sponsoring events — including HBO, the New York Yankees, "Good Morning America," Google and CitiGroup (which pays for the park's popular skating rink).

The park today runs in the black, even though Biederman spends six times as much on maintenance as the parks department once did.

"Some people claim this is a bargain with the devil," Harvard University urban design expert Jerold Kayden said. "Some people say we need the devil."

And in Bryant Park, the devil does wear Prada.

Last month, the skaters were banished and the public rink dismantled for the season. The six-acre lawn was covered by private pavilions, then blocked off by barricades.

Logos, not flowers

After weeks of preparations, Bryant Park was turned into the gated community of Fashion Week. Its Parisian-style promenades snarled by power cables, its tree-lined side streets blocked by growling power generators and double-parked limos, Bryant Park last week was an invitation-only eyesore where commercial logos bloomed instead of flowers.

Park managers would like to evict Fashion Week and keep the park open to the public, but city officials overrule them every year.

"They pay us a million dollars. It's a million dollars I would happily do without," Biederman said.


Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times

March 4th, 2007, 10:10 AM
they pay for themselves, with space set aside on public land for stores, restaurants, luxury condominiums...
The concept has been around for centuries. 19th Century examles include Regent's Park, with its ultra-luxurious townhouses and mansions plus the Zoo; Tivoli Gardens with its admission fee and fun fair; and Budapest's Varosliget Millenium Park, which though it contains luxurious restaurants, a zoo, a circus, an amusement park, a vast commercial thermal bath and numerous museums, functions as the city's central park.

Come to think of it, New York's Central Park contains some of those and similar facilities.

Valid point, though, about the demonstration on the grass versus the Philharmonic on the grass.

Well, there's always the streets ...

March 5th, 2007, 09:39 AM
It all depends on what crowds you would attract to these events.

I would IMAGINE that the Phil's audience would eb a little more concientious about keeping the park nice than a bunch of people who were angry and protesting, but that is only a thought.

Also, the idea that these places become more private is OK in some ways, but not in others. If there was some way to get people to respect the space and not think "It's Free, and someone else is responsible for caring for it" all would be for the berret, but between the dog-crap leavers, and the drive by litter-droppers and the REALLY piss-poor "family barbeque" park trashers (Forest Hills has a lot of these for some reason, the park nearby), the parks have a hard time just cleaning up, nevermind being maintained!

What would be able to change this?

March 5th, 2007, 11:04 AM
The article makes reference to the Central Park Conservancy and corporate sponsorship of Bryant Park. Although both provide funds, there is a difference.

The CP Conservancy has not only provided funding for capital projects, but have taken over much of park maintenance. But there is very little interference with the public nature of the park. You could say that the group exerts political influence, but in the case of the denial of the antiwar protest permit, that could have been pressure from City Hall, not the Conservancy. I think that's the case with their neutral position on the matter of banning vehicles from the park.

Bryant Park is another matter.

March 5th, 2007, 05:46 PM
The CP Conservancy has not only provided funding for capital projects, but have taken over much of park maintenance. But there is very little interference with the public nature of the park.

There is that matter of all those brown wooden fences everywhere -- which certainly has changed the public nature of CP since I first moved to NYC (when you could walk anywhere on the dead or nonexistent grass).

But that's a somewhat small price to pay for the wonderful work that the CPC has done in restoring CP to the beautiful place it is now. So I will stop my public complaining about the fences -- and keep that grumbling to myself ;)

March 5th, 2007, 06:01 PM
I remember Central Park before those fences, when so many of the lawns were dust bowls.

April 12th, 2007, 07:39 PM
Everytime I walk past Bryant Park its closed. When does it re-open?

April 12th, 2007, 08:30 PM
Once you're gone! :D

The Benniest
May 29th, 2008, 10:17 PM
The movies have been released for this summer's Bryant Park Film Festival. All of these movies will be shown on the Great Lawn at Bryant Park. The lawn opens at 5:00 p.m. and the films start around dusk (8:00-9:00 p.m.)

June, 2008
Monday (16) - Dr. No (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=688)
Monday (23) - The Bridge of Frankenstein (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=689)
Monday (30) - Hud (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=690)

July, 2008
Monday (7) - The Man Who Came to Dinner (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=691)
Monday (14) - Fail Safe (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=692)
Monday (21) - Arsenic and Old Lace (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=693)
Monday (28) - The Apartment (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=694)

August, 2008
Monday (7) - Lifeboat (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=695)
Monday (11) - The Candidate (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=696)
Monday (18) - Superman (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=697)

The Benniest
May 29th, 2008, 10:39 PM
Also during the summer, there are events such as the Good Morning America Concert Series, Piano in the Park, and Classes in the Park.

GMA Concert Series: 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. / Upper Terrace
Piano in the Park: 12:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. / Upper Terrace
Classes in the Park: Class areas differ - click here. (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/classes.php)

Good Morning America Concert Series:

May, 2008
Friday (30) - Usher (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=821) - TOMORROW!

June, 2008
Friday (6) - Ashanti w/ Special Guest (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=822)
Friday (13) - Cyndi Lauper (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=823)
Friday (20) - Boyz II Men (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=824)
Friday (27) - Maroon 5 (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=825)

July, 2008
Friday (4) - Chaka Khan (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=826)
Friday (11) - Artist TBA (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=827)
Friday (18) - Miley Cyrus (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=828)
Friday (25) - Feist (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=829)

August, 2008
Friday (1) - Cast of Broadway's Rent (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=830)
Friday (8) - The Jonas Brothers (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=831)
Friday (15) - Artist TBA (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=832)
Friday (22) - Artist TBA (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/events/event.php?event=833)

Piano in the Park:

Full list here. (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/piano.php)

Classes in the Park:

Full list here. (http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/classes.php)

May 30th, 2008, 09:22 AM
I hate Fashion Week being in the Park. It should clearly be placed somewhere else. All those tents and wires making a big ugly exclusive eyesore. Are there no other venues available in this giant metropolis? If not, let the multibillion dollar fashion industry pony up for building one. I think it's an outrage.

May 30th, 2008, 09:37 AM
In some ways I agree ...

But the fashionistas might argue that the only reason that Bryant Park has evolved from the not-so-glorious 70s / 80s when it was a drug-infested / hustler crusing / decrepit patch of brownery into it's current lush state is due to private money from local businesses via Business Improvement Districts -- Bryant Park - Grand Central Partnership -- and that the money paid by the fashion industry to use the public space is what keeps Bryant Park as nice as it is during thhose times when the tents are not there.

Such is the way of the world in NYC of the 21st Century.

The Benniest
May 30th, 2008, 08:09 PM
I hate Fashion Week being in the Park. It should clearly be placed somewhere else. All those tents and wires making a big ugly exclusive eyesore. Are there no other venues available in this giant metropolis? If not, let the multibillion dollar fashion industry pony up for building one. I think it's an outrage.
I agree with everything you said here. I've never seen the tents/wires for Fashion Week with the park, but when I walked by and saw how lovely the park looked in Spring, I now have a hard time imaging huge tents, loud music, and wires everywhere.

Also, as you mentioned, it's just baffling to me why they can't build a building specifically for fashion shows/week or do it some other place in the city.

May 30th, 2008, 10:08 PM
Oh, it's just one week. Think of how many other weeks you can spend watching movies on the lawn, or ice-skating - for free.

For better or worse, the operation of the park has turned into a business. Given how they've balanced the public and private realms, I think they've done a pretty decent - and tasteful - job.

May 31st, 2008, 05:24 AM
I now have a hard time imaging huge tents, loud music, and wires everywhere.

Also, as you mentioned, it's just baffling to me why they can't build a building specifically for fashion shows/week or do it some other place in the city.

Why pick on fashion week?

What about the events mentioned in your previous two posts on this thread.

Bryant Park Film Festival.
Good Morning America Series.
Piano in the Park.
Classes in the Park.

Should we get rid of these too?

I think New York mostly uses its park spaces very well.

May 31st, 2008, 09:37 AM
Fashion Week takes place in Bryant Park TWICE a year, but maybe not for long ...

Fashion Week in Bryant Park May Go Out of Style

Search on for new venue, maybe for as early as 2009

Getty Images
Fashion Week in Bryant Park.

The New York Observer (http://www.observer.com/2008/fashion-week-bryant-park-may-go-out-style)
by Lysandra Ohrstrom
February 5, 2008

The Bryant Park Corporation wants the current Fashion Week to be one of the last in the midtown plaza. It’s been working with city officials to scout potential new spaces for next year’s Fashion Weeks, said Daniel Biederman, president of the Bryant Park Corporation.

The problem? Fashion Week, Mr. Biederman said, eats into the revenues of Bryant Park vendors; forces the ice-skating rink there to close in the middle of winter; pushes the public to the fringes of the park in the spring; and gives the lawn a beating. So the semiannual event may move even before its lease at Bryant Park, negotiated less than two years ago, ends.
Fashion Week’s manager, IMG Fashions, has a lease to use Bryant Park through 2010.

“Normally, we would not be involved in the search,” Mr. Biederman said, “but we’re so anxious to get rid of them that we’re working probably as hard as they are to find a new spot that fashion will like so we can run the ice rink through 2009-2010.”

Mr. Biederman would not specify which locations the city and the corporation are considering; all, he said, are within “a mile or two radius” of Bryant Park.

In late 2006, Mayor Bloomberg intervened when the corporation refused to renew IMG’s lease; he helped hammer out a contract that allows Fashion Week to remain in its traditional venue through 2010. The current Fashion Week is only the first of six under the lease, and IMG is understandably in no rush to exit Bryant Park, said Fern Mallis, vice president of the firm’s fashion division.

“We think that Bryant Park is absolutely the perfect venue for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week,” Ms. Mallis said. “It’s where it started. … It’s been the central heartbeat of [the event], and we’re here contractually until 2010,” she said. “We’re not divulging any information about the search.”

According to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, under the current agreement, IMG will pay the Bryant Park Corporation, for maintenance and use of the park, $1,210,000 for each Fashion Week in 2008; $1,330,000 for each one in 2009; and $1,460,000 for the one in February 2010.

Mercedes-Benz is underwriting the cost of the park, and dozens of other sponsors, including American Express, have attached their name to the fall 2008 shows.

This week, 68 designers will pay IMG between $26,000 and $48,500 to show in Bryant Park, and 24 others will hold shows off-site but pay a $4,000 “associate member” fee to be listed in the Fashion Week program, said Ms. Mallis.

She said the production costs of Fashion Week are now considerably higher than the last time figures were released, in 2006—the New York Post reported then that the bill for that year’s two Fashion Weeks was an estimated $12 million.

“It’s a multimillion [dollar] project, and it’s an expensive proposition,” she said, “but an important one for New York’s fashion industry, which is a vital engine of the city’s economy.”

City officials also trumpet Fashion Week as a vital part of the economy. Annually, the events generate $177 million in total profits for the hospitality and tourism sectors, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

For Bryant Park vendors, however, the revenue losses from biannual business interruptions far outweigh the financial benefit of Fashion Week, Mr. Biederman said.

“Wichcraft sandwiches does almost no business during Fashion Week, and Bryant Park Grill occasionally hosts a party,” he said, “but they’ve told us that it doesn’t make up for lost business.”

© 2008 Observer Media Group

May 31st, 2008, 10:39 PM
But the fashionistas might argue that the only reason that Bryant Park has evolved from the not-so-glorious 70s / 80s when it was a drug-infested / hustler crusing / decrepit patch of brownery into it's current lush state is due to private money from local businesses via Business Improvement Districts -- Bryant Park - Grand Central Partnership -- and that the money paid by the fashion industry to use the public space is what keeps Bryant Park as nice as it is during thhose times when the tents are not there.

The BPC has already said it would happily do without the 1 million or so it gets for fashion Week. It's more trouble than it's worth;

The problem? Fashion Week, Mr. Biederman said, eats into the revenues of Bryant Park vendors; forces the ice-skating rink there to close in the middle of winter; pushes the public to the fringes of the park in the spring; and gives the lawn a beating.

Why pick on fashion week?

What about the events mentioned in your previous two posts on this thread.

Bryant Park Film Festival.
Good Morning America Series.
Piano in the Park.
Classes in the Park.

Should we get rid of these too?

Definitely not; those uses are for the public's enjoyment. Fashion Week is not.
There could be more appropriate venues to hold Fashion Week. I'm not picking on Fashion Week, if any other event had this impact twice a year I would be against that too. I'm working in the design industry and still I say hold it elsewhere. Those of us who live/work in the vicinity and regularly use the lawn for lunch or a respite from midtown's cement don't like this. Is there another lawn nearby? Is the immediate area rich with leafy alternatives? Heck no! In the winter, the issue becomes the ice rink being forced to close. People love the ice rink, it's great for all ages and walks of life, not just the fashionistas who can locate alternatives. What about the armories for instance?

May 31st, 2008, 11:15 PM
My favourite memory of Bryant park is when we had our heaviest snowfall this winter, I was on an errand and was walking up 6th avenue. I stopped in the empty park and stood in the snow watching in awe as the snow fell against the backdrop of 500 5th, I could have sworn I was in another time.

June 1st, 2008, 05:04 AM
There could be more appropriate venues to hold Fashion Week. I'm not picking on Fashion Week, if any other event had this impact twice a year I would be against that too. I'm working in the design industry and still I say hold it elsewhere. Those of us who live/work in the vicinity and regularly use the lawn for lunch or a respite from midtown's cement don't like this. Is there another lawn nearby? Is the immediate area rich with leafy alternatives? Heck no! In the winter, the issue becomes the ice rink being forced to close. People love the ice rink, it's great for all ages and walks of life, not just the fashionistas who can locate alternatives. What about the armories for instance?

MTG. You make a very good case for holding this event elsewhere.

BPC say this on their website,

Hold an event in Bryant Park
As the only large-scale public park in midtown Manhattan, Bryant Park is a much sought-after location for concerts, performances, product launches, and many other types of public and private events. With its seasonal plantings, neo-classical sculptures and structures, gravel promenades, and—of course—its elegant slatted chairs, the park offers New Yorkers a uniquely European-feeling outdoor space.
Bryant Park has a commitment to serve the public and enhance the neighborhood by providing green space and cultural enrichment. The Bryant Park Corporation (BPC), a non-profit organization, carefully considers proposals for events in the park in light of their potential to support this commitment.

I guess they got a bit greedy when they saw the $millions and signed the contract.
Now they say, thay can do without the several millions.
A truly well run non profit organization.

But, MTG, I have to agree it is a really nice OASIS (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=175952&postcount=1)

June 1st, 2008, 06:48 AM
The Fashion Week event effectively shuts down the park. Besides the lawn, cables snake through the plaza to support vehicles on 6th Ave.

Late winter 2007, the lawn was shut down for a few months for major repair. Despite all that work, it was shut down again this year for re-sodding.

June 1st, 2008, 07:56 AM
It seems that they re-sod the lawn after every Fashion Week.

June 1st, 2008, 09:08 AM
It seems that they re-sod the lawn after every Fashion Week.

Well that would certainly eat into the $m

The Benniest
June 9th, 2008, 06:07 PM
HERE (http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/galleries/ashanti_performs_in_the_park/ashanti_performs_in_the_park.html) are pictures from Ashanti's performance in the park for the Good Morning America Concert Series.

June 11th, 2008, 02:26 PM
I'm sure that's completely budgetted in.

Isn't this something that should be in a, um, convention center, of some sort? I've always thought it seemed a bit wacky to do this in a public park

June 11th, 2008, 02:34 PM
A problem already brewing 8 years ago...

Paradise Lost, Again

As printed in The New York Times, September 16, 2000

If you want to take your lunch out in Bryant Park and sit in the sun over the next few weeks, you can just forget about it. That goes for the rest of the month, the entire holiday season, and much of February, too.

Bryant Park, one of Manhattan's most remarkable, best-loved places, and one of the best examples of civic improvement, is effectively closed to the public for most of this fall and winter. The park's whole center lawn has been sublet to commercial entities for private events limited to ticket holders. These include the semiannual 7th on Sixth fashion show, which began on Monday and will be up again for about two weeks in February, and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which will open in the park in late November and run through Christmas.

Twenty years ago, when Project for Public Spaces was hired to figure out why the public underused Bryant Park, we came to a conclusion that sounds remarkably familiar now: the park was monopolized by private commercial interests -- in those days, drug dealers. Fear of the dealers, and a design that included high hedges and few entrances, kept people away.

When we asked the drug dealers how they felt about making the park more open to the public, they said they had no problem with people using the park, as long as it didn't interfere with their business. What answer would we get if we put the same question to the companies now sponsoring events like 7th on Sixth?

The situation is truly a shame, because Bryant Park could very well be the best civic square in America. The whole point of the redesign plan -- which we helped conceive with our mentor, the late William H. Whyte, in 1981 -- was to invite the public in and provide activities everyone could enjoy. This formula was followed and executed wonderfully. Today, thousands of people use the park every day , and the portable chairs let them control how they use the green space.

Why the city would rely so heavily on private activities in a public park is a mystery, even when winter drives the bench-sitters and sunbathers inside. Imagine instead a skating rink or a Christmas market like the one in Union Square -- activities that are truly public. Or picture the city's aspiring artists creating ice sculptures in a public competition. Bryant Park has re-established itself as enough of a destination so that it could pioneer its own traditions, similar to the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

For years, many New Yorkers stayed away from Bryant Park, Central Park and other public spaces out of fear of crime. These places have been turned around by dedicated volunteers and leaders who understand how to attract people and keep a park safe and clean. The example they set for New York has inspired other cities to reclaim their parks and downtowns through public-private management partnerships.

But we need to remember that it is still our responsibility to insist that our city parks are open to everyone all the time. Otherwise, we will get used to being shut out of them, and they will become the same empty, useless spaces they were 20 years ago.

Fred Kent is the president of Project for Public Spaces Inc., a nonprofit planning and design company. Andrew Schwartz assisted in writing this article.

© The New York Times

June 11th, 2008, 02:53 PM
A week or so ago I and about a zillion other folks were sitting on the lawn having our lunches at mid-day.

Everyone smiling and happy, a sea of office workers and others grabbing some lunchtime sunshine and contact with a green lawn.

Suddenly, a crew of guys started yelling rudely to everyone to get their things and vacate the lawn.
When questioned the reason, one yelled back "Private event at 5:00!! Move it!"
We were all supposed to immediately collect our lunches, in the middle of being eaten, and get lost.
I thought, if I could just finish my slice of pizza here, because by the time I find somewhere else to sit it will be cold!
No dice. A second pass-by of the burly guys let everyone know we couldn't even finish our food. "NOW!" they said :mad::mad:
The private event at 5:00pm was hours away, and we couldn't even stay a minute longer evidently.
It isn't as if this city is festooned with benches and public spaces. As it is, there are far too few places to sit outside without them always booting us out of the park. It sucks.

June 13th, 2008, 07:47 AM
I don't get why they hold so many events that do not much relate to or benefoit from their location. I mean, you coudl do fashion week or whatever in some old building in brooklyn or the MPD, no?. Why Bryant Park? There's a failure of imagination there, methinks.

June 13th, 2008, 10:45 AM
MTG, any posted notices?

They have a responsibility to tell the people when they are hosting things and when the park will be open or closed. If they are not doing that, there should be some sort of time limit as to how long you have to leave (like a public announcement stating the park will close in 30 minutes...etc etc).

Just telling you to "move now" is a bit much. :(

September 3rd, 2008, 06:10 PM
Fashion Week is alive and well again this week. Don't mind the dirty looks from the Bocce ball players when you step onto their court to get around the giant tent. Any word on an alternative solution yet for 2010?

October 9th, 2008, 04:24 AM

From the Lawn at Bryant Park

Interactive PHOTOGRAPHS (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/nyregion/09thennow.html?ref=nyregion)

Looking northwest across Bryant Park to the Avenue of the Americas and West 42nd Street in Manhattan.

By DAVID W. DUNLAP (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/david_w_dunlap/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: October 8, 2008

There is a lot less daylight over Bryant Park than there was 30 years ago, and the pall is caused by more than steel and glass. The presence of the new Bank of America Tower at 1 Bryant Park, rising like an icy stalagmite, is a three-dimensional reminder that big banks now dominate New Yorkers’

(The Bank of America, for its part, picked Merrill Lynch off the floor on Sept. 14.)

But the presence of this enormous bank on 42nd Street — 42nd Street! — also underscores the astonishing transformation of Bryant Park and Avenue of the Americas in the three decades since the first of these two pictures was taken, for Paul Goldberger (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/paul_goldberger/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s “The City Observed: New York,” an architectural guide to Manhattan.

When The New York Times reported the park’s “improvement” in 1978, what it meant was that people entering at lunchtime no longer had to fear for their lives, even though they could just about count on confronting some belligerent drug dealers loitering under the trees.

After an extensive rehabilitation by the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, and many seasons of outdoor movies and fashion shows, the park’s reputation was fairly rehabilitated. In 2004, the Durst Organization (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/d/durst_organization/index.html?inline=nyt-org), a family real estate business long active around Bryant Park, was able to entice the Bank of America, based in North Carolina, to become a major tenant in the area.

To keep pace with this increasingly corporate ambience, the new owners of 1095 Avenue of the Americas, at left, have recently reclad it in a sheer glass facade. The hope, clearly, is to shake off the institutional cast of the building’s years serving the New York Telephone Company. Nynex. No. Bell Atlantic. Sorry, sorry. Verizon. That’s it. Verizon.

The Bryant Park Building, at center, also had a glass blanket thrown over it in the mid-1980s, to modernize it into the home of Home Box Office (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/home_box_office_inc/index.html?inline=nyt-org).

The Grace Building, at right, and the Dursts’ pinstriped 1133 Avenue of the Americas, in the center rear of the picture, are almost unchanged.
There is a noticeable difference, however. No. 1133 was a fairly lonely sentry 30 years ago, when the stigma of the Sixth Avenue elevated railroad was still a living memory. It is now one of a line of skyscrapers marching up the avenue. The long shadow cast by the El has finally lifted, 70 years after its demolition.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 2nd, 2009, 09:19 PM
A New Home for New York Fashion Week

Published: February 2, 2009

After holding runway shows under a big tent in Bryant Park for 15 years, organizers of New York’s Fashion Week are expected to announce on Tuesday that they will move the event to Lincoln Center, beginning in 2010.

The twice-annual event, which is estimated to draw more than 100,000 visiting store buyers and fashion editors, has been under increasing pressure to find a new home after complaints from the park management that the invitation-only shows had grown too large and were restricting public access to the park.

Two designers who typically show in the park said they had been told that the new location would be Lincoln Center, but Zach Eichman, a spokesman for IMG, which produces the shows, declined to comment.

Although the fashion shows, now operating as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to reflect a corporate sponsorship, were welcomed in Bryant Park in 1993, there were frequent clashes with the management company that controls its maintenance and security.

The dispute intensified in 2006, when the Bryant Park Corporation announced it would no longer allow the shows to happen in the park, because they were interfering with plans to operate a skating rink in the winter and public use of the main lawn in the late summer. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was then asked by designers, as well as Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, to intercede on their behalf, leading to an arrangement for Fashion Week to remain there, at least temporarily.

About 63 designers are expected to present their fall 2009 collections in the park starting on Feb. 13, although hundreds of other shows are scheduled at galleries and event spaces around Manhattan. The event generates $466 million in visitor spending each year, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Finding a new home has not been easy for the designers, many of whose businesses are nearby on Seventh Avenue. Fern Mallis, the senior vice president of IMG Fashion, has looked at locations including a space on top of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. A one-season attempt to have the shows at the Chelsea Piers in 1997 was a logistical disaster, as many guests found themselves struggling to get there, or otherwise get out.

It is not clear whether IMG hopes to recreate the tents on the plaza at Lincoln Center or use nearby buildings for additional space, but a feasibility study done in 2006 suggested staging tents on opposite sides of the New York State Theater with a corridor winding between them, meaning guests might have to walk the equivalent of a city block between each show.

Daniel A. Biederman, the head of the Bryant Park Corporation, criticized the event in 2006 for causing ongoing disruptions, but ultimately relented. Phone calls to Mr. Biederman were not immediately returned on Monday. IMG pays $1 million to $1.5 million to use the space each season, according to an IMG executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the company does not typically release any figures.

Link (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/03/fashion/03TENTS.html?hp)

April 16th, 2009, 08:23 PM

April 17th, 2009, 04:59 PM
I was there yesterday morning. What a great place!! My 8-yr old just slumped flat on the grass (I don't suppose you're meant to, but he doesn't know that...)

April 17th, 2009, 05:18 PM
What is this, Luca? A stealth visit?

Aren't you an investment banker? You're not supposed to have any money.

April 17th, 2009, 07:44 PM
Hi Luca, actually your 8 yr. old could roll all over it if he likes- it's only temporarily closed so the lawn can establish itself, after that everybody lays in the grass there (or sits with those little movable chairs):)

The Benniest
April 19th, 2009, 01:54 AM
This is a really cool picture MidtownGuy! :eek: :D

October 8th, 2009, 08:15 PM



December 25th, 2009, 09:16 PM
Linear - not bad
Plain - well...plain...and boring
Organic - very nice - my pick

Park's Fashionable Trash

December 24, 2009, by Joey

We're off to celebrate, but we'll be back next week with our annual Curbed Awards!


MIDTOWN—The garbage cans in Bryant Park are being replaced this spring, and the Bryant Park Corporation is asking the public to vote on three designs to decide the new look. The contenders are above, and you can vote right here (http://blog.bryantpark.org/post/295354047/litterreceptacles). [CurbedWire Inbox]

http://curbed.com/archives/2009/12/24/bryant_parks_fashionable_trash_westbeth_on_road_to _landmarking.php

December 26th, 2009, 09:38 AM
I like the third one the best too.

December 26th, 2009, 12:14 PM
Linear in Reseda Green and Organic in Grass Green are running neck to neck in the online poll (http://blog.bryantpark.org/post/295354047/litterreceptacles).

December 26th, 2009, 02:16 PM
Organic in Reseda Green.

February 12th, 2010, 06:45 AM


April 5th, 2010, 03:50 PM
http://images.ny-pictures.com/photo2/m/24797_m.jpg (http://ny-pictures.com/nyc/photo/picture/24797/yorkers_enjoying_springtime_bryant)

... pictures of Bryant park (http://ny-pictures.com/nyc/photo/topic/1867/Bryant_Park)

November 11th, 2010, 06:05 AM
Very nice :).

Bryant Park's Tulip Trash Bins Win Design Prize

The botanical-themed garbage cans won a silver medal in the Spark Awards international design competition.

By Jill Colvin

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2010_11_R9506_Bryant_Park_garbage_bi ns_win_prize.jpg

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2010_11_R8109_Bryant_Park_garbage_bi ns_win_prize.jpg

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2010_11_R307_Bryant_Park_garbage_bin s_win_prize.jpg

MANHATTAN — Everything's coming up roses — or rather, tulips — for Bryant Park’s new garbage bins.

The tulip-shaped trash receptacles, which were installed throughout the park this summer, have been awarded a silver medal by the Spark Awards international design competition.

"It's very exciting," Bryant Park Corporation's design director Ignacio Ciocchini said.

Other top winners include PUMA's "Clever Little Bag" shoebox, which uses 65 percent less cardboard than a traditional shoe box, the "Node" swivel classroom chair, and the futuristic "Dyson Air Multiplier" bladeless fan.

Ciocchini said the grass-green bins were inspired by the plants and flowers in the park and are intended to makes a statement.

"Instead of having a trash can that looks good but is mainly utilitarian, we decided to make the trash can into an element that becomes part of the experience of the park," he said.

The bins took about two years to design, from sketches to prototype to final product, Ciocchini said. There are now one hundred scattered throughout the park, in addition to 25 matching lime green and deep blue recycling bins.

The same bins have also been installed by the 34th Street Partnership in Herald and Greeley Squares.

The bins and the other winning designs are now set to travel to Hong Kong, where they'll be featured at an exhibition. They'll then travel throughout Asia and Europe to cities including Taipei, Beijing, Tokyo, Mumbai, Istanbul, Barcelona and London.

This is Ciocchini’s second Spark Award. He also won a prize for the Chelsea Streetscape Collection in 2009.

The park has also been racking up honors. Its bathroom was recently ranked third in the nation and the American Planning Association named it one of 2010's top 10 "Great Public Spaces in America."

Tulip-Shaped Trash Cans Arrive in Bryant Park (http://www.dnainfo.com/20100629/manhattan/tulipshaped-trash-cans-arrive-bryant-park#ixzz14tsPmF7y)


November 11th, 2010, 09:12 AM
They look very tippy.

November 11th, 2010, 11:43 AM
The trash bins: Maybe too much visual noise. Busy.

So Bryant Park will become a Christmas Mall for a few months?

November 11th, 2010, 12:55 PM
Ugh.... festive trash bins. That's how stupid things have become.

November 11th, 2010, 01:06 PM
So Bryant Park will become a Christmas Mall for a few months?

Just like every year: shopping stalls, lights, food, carousel, caroling.

With free ice skating (http://www.thepondatbryantpark.com/) (if you have your own skates, otherwise gotta rent the blades (http://www.thepondatbryantpark.com/skate/info)).

If you're in the area there's a great Lionel Train Pop Up Shop (http://www.newyorkology.com/archives/2010/11/lionel_trains_t.php) that has just opened across Sixth in the Met Life building (1095 Sixth (http://www.lionel.com/CentralStation/NewsStand/viewrelease.cfm?newsID=191) corner of W 42).

November 11th, 2010, 01:30 PM
I like the trash bin design. Although one color would be nice, maybe dark green. Better than the black cylindrical mesh things.

November 11th, 2010, 01:33 PM
brianac just saw the pic a few up from here. Just beautiful. Makes it look very enchanting.

November 11th, 2010, 02:09 PM
We've come a long way, baby












November 11th, 2010, 02:24 PM
Some evolution. What is that in the earlier pics? Looks like a fortress.

November 11th, 2010, 02:57 PM
Some evolution. What is that in the earlier pics? Looks like a fortress.

That was the reservoir from the old croton aqueduct system

November 11th, 2010, 03:11 PM
Folks used to go up to the top of the reservoir and stroll around the perimeter. The High Line of the 1800s.

Note the mention and drawing of the Latting Observatory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latting_Observatory) in the 3rd pic; that was the Empire State Building of the day. It went up in 1853 but didn't last long (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10A14F9385D147493C3A91782D85F42 8584F9).

Big Image from NYPL Digital (http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=717114&imageID=800133&total=2&num=0&word=Latting%20Observatory%20%28New%20York%2C%20N% 2EY%2E%29%20%2D%2D%201850%2D1859&s=3&notword=&d=&c=&f=2&k=0&lWord=&lField=&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&imgs=20&pos=1&e=w#_seemore)

November 11th, 2010, 03:24 PM
Apparently our version of the Eiffel Tower, the Latting Observatory looked pretty lame by comparison

November 11th, 2010, 04:29 PM
^Then they failed miserably. Any accidents ever in the reservoir? Can't imagine there wouldn't have been.

November 11th, 2010, 04:47 PM
I'm waiting for the tulip shaped trash bin photo with the homeless guy scrounging for food. It will sure to be a classic.

November 11th, 2010, 04:58 PM
... our version of the Eiffel Tower, the Latting Observatory looked pretty lame by comparison.

Ours was made mostly of wood. Not so bad considering it was built 36 years earlier, which was an eon in terms of technology back then.

November 11th, 2010, 04:59 PM
I'm waiting for the tulip shaped trash bin photo with the homeless guy scrounging for food. It will sure to be a classic.

I'll keep my eyes open. Would a drunken Santa doing the same be good enough?

November 11th, 2010, 05:04 PM
^ December 25th, front page of the HuffingtonPost: "Merry Christmas from Third World America".

January 20th, 2011, 06:55 PM
That was the reservoir from the old croton aqueduct system

Streetscapes | The Croton Reservoir

The Library’s Extremely Useful Predecessor

By CHRISTOPHER GRAY (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/christopher_gray/index.html?inline=nyt-per)


September 2nd, 2011, 09:56 PM
Very moving tribute.

2,753 Empty Chairs to Honor 9/11 Victims at Bryant Park

By Olivia Scheck






BRYANT PARK — A solemn exhibition, featuring 2,753 empty chairs, will be erected in Bryant Park next month for the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, park officials announced.

The chairs, meant to commemorate those who died at the World Trade Center site, will be arranged on the main lawn, facing south towards the fallen towers, according to a statement by the Bryant Park Corporation.

The tally of those who died in the attacks stood at 2,752 until June, when Jerry Borg was added to the list after he died of pulmonary sarcoidosis.

Bryant Park displayed empty chairs to honor 9/11 victims once before, on the first anniversary of the attacks in 2002, spokesman Joe Carella said.

Lasting from Sept. 9 through Sept. 11, the memorial will close the lawn to visitors, who can view the exhibit from surrounding paths and terraces.


September 7th, 2011, 08:31 AM
A good remembrance, but I am kinda creeped out.....

Although I know there is a lot of grief still with the living, we seem to have this morbid attachment to the dead....

February 28th, 2012, 06:36 AM
Inside the transformation of Bryant Park

By Jason Sheftell

Bryant Park Corporation

When flying over New York City in the dark of night, look down. Two areas shine with white light. All others are dull yellow. From the ground, if you look closely, the buildings in these areas seem brighter. People’s faces are lit better. Just blocks apart in midtown Manhattan, the areas share something: Both Bryant Park and the 34th St. retail corridor are managed by groups led by Dan Biederman, a pioneer in neighborhood improvement and the first person to use private funds to better public spaces.

Biederman runs the Bryant Park Corporation, 34th St. Partnership, and Chelsea Improvement Company. His Biederman Redevelopment Ventures helps cities worldwide. Behind the scenes, perhaps no other person has done more for city neighborhoods. One of his biggest mantras — it’s in the little things.

“People don’t know they are judging, but they are,” says Biederman, who started running Bryant Park with a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in 1980. “They feel how an area is inside, like an emotion. We might make very subtle changes, but when you add them up, they make for incredible improvements that elevate the value of the surrounding property and make the city a better place to live.”

Like white lights.

“Studies show that yellow light is not a crime deterrent,” says Biederman, sitting in his office conference room with direct views onto CitiPond, the sponsored skating rink where citizens and tourists skate for free in the shadow of the New York Public Library. “It makes buildings look worse. It might have cost slightly more, but the white makes a huge difference in the pedestrian experience.”

Biederman is probably the world’s foremost expert on “pedestrian experience” and physically improving a neighborhood. He’s been studying it since the day he took over at Bryant Park. Back then, it was a drug den and bathroom for the homeless. Brooke Astor was offered marijuana on the library steps. Graffiti covered most of the stone. No fountains worked. The great lawn was a dirt patch.

The carousel at Bryant Park (BRYANT PARK CORPORATION)

Today, it’s midtown’s social center, enjoyed by more than 6 million people per year who come to lunch, sit after work, watch their children ride a carousel or enjoy an event. It’s become one of the top parks of its size (9 acres if you include the library building) in the world.

“We think this is the top small park experience, on par with Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, St. James in London or the Temple of Heaven in Beijing,” he says. “We improve the park 12 to 15 ways per year and are constantly doing capital projects. We just completed a $5 million irrigation upgrade. People have described the park as a ‘little jewel.’ We work hard to hear that. Our goal is to keep getting better.”

With an annual operating budget of $7 million, around 15% (or 10 cents per square foot) comes from assessments on local business and building *owners. The other 85% comes from sponsorships, events and concession rents. CitiPond brought in $2 million for the 2011-12 season, most of which goes to rink and market operators. Rents paid by kiosks and restaurants such as Bryant Park Grill bring revenue. So do programs such as the HBO-sponsored film festival. On 34th St., where events and sponsorship are more difficult, the budget is $9.9 million and landlords pay 29 cents per square foot.

Bryant Park in 1984, a haven for drug dealers and the homeless (BRYANT PARK COPROATION)

"We’re deal makers now,” says Biederman, about the Bryant Park Corporation, part of which operates similar to 34th St. as a New York City Business Improvement District, a city-led program to improve retail and commercial areas by taxing local owners. “After stopping the crime, getting rid of the graffiti, building the restaurants and improving the appearance, we targeted young people working in the area. We built on that with seniors at the Reading Room and kids with the Carousel. The *average income of someone using the park is $54,000. This park is for the average New Yorker.”

Biederman is highly competitive. He lives to innovate, for his organization’s ideas to be copied around the world. He thinks the city is doing a terrible job policing illegal food vendors. Whenever he walks the streets anywhere in the world, he looks to see if they’re doing a better job than he is. If they are, he searches for the individual in charge.

When he walks in Bryant Park, he smiles and smirks, and picks up trash. His groups do meticulous studies. One showed that more than 10,000 people per hour walk 34th St., where usage has doubled in 10 years. Of the 600-plus stores on the corridor, they have identified 70 needing improvement. That’s down from 400 in the early 1990s.

The fountain in Bryant Park (BRYANT PARK COPROATION)

Biederman’s innovations include sleek tree pits, benches designed by a strong in-house design team and an award-winning horticulture and street plaza program that has brought life to Greeley Square and the triangle outside the Apple Store on W. 14th St. Under Biederman, Bryant Park was one of the first parks in the world to use kiddy-size tables and chairs. That idea was copied worldwide.

Biederman’s team counts 60-plus people, including an archivist who studies park and area history. The company is broken into a retail component, events and programming team, capital improvement construction group, design department, business affairs, operations, sanitation and security.

They come together in a weekly “Streetscape” meeting that is the most educational and informative urban teaching symposium we’ve ever seen. Slide shows, presentations and open discussions dominate the two-hour Biederman-led sessions. Opinions are mandatory. Cell phones are forbidden. They discuss bathroom air dispensers, illegal vendors creating odors, streetlight design, go over all area press, read tourist reviews, and schedule potential events.


A slide show examining a similar-size park in Vienna lends ideas on how to promote socialization for single adults. When a good idea comes up, Biederman inevitably asks, “Who will pay for it?”
“These meetings resolve issues and increase internal communications,” says Biederman. “More than one-third of the staff is under 30. Education is a must. We get into microscopic detail. Right now, I think we’re the best in the world at what we do. Staying on top of everything will keep us there.”

Biederman is more matter-of-fact than arrogant. His proof is in the pudding. The park and 34th St. look better than nearby areas. Commercial and retail rents are up significantly more in the districts he manages than surrounding areas. Bryant Park has seen the construction and leasing of the Bank of America tower, with another class-A office building on the way. Around 34th St., upscale brands have increased.

Peter Howard and Barbara Cook do their act under umbrellas at Bryant Park in 1958 (BRYANT PARK COPORATION)

While some critics argue that Business Improvement Districts and Biederman’s groups increase the pace of gentrification, others criticize the sterility of Biederman-managed areas, calling them too clean.

“People say I don’t like grit,” says Biederman. “I don’t. If they want to bring back the drug dealers and human feces to Bryant Park, let’s try that and see how it works. This is midtown Manhattan. This is what people dream about when they think of New York City. This is where the action is. This kind of urban improvement not only helps the immediate area by making it safe, enjoyable and more esthetically pleasing, it ripples out to the surrounding streets. And, if rents go up and building values increase, the city can collect more taxes at no tax expense to the average citizen. It takes a lot of work to get these neighborhoods beautiful, but in the end it makes for a better city.”

So what areas would Biederman like to get his hands on next?

“I’d love to get a call about the Grand Concourse in the Bronx,” he says. “I think the design has flaws and has hurt the area, but it has great potential. Bleecker St. could use help. The lighting stinks. It could be nicer. It’s missing something.”


October 26th, 2012, 11:12 PM
Bryant Park Lawn Frozen for Free Ice Rink

By Mary Johnson





MIDTOWN — Each fall in Manhattan, Bryant Park’s pristinely manicured lawn turns to ice.

Its stone-covered walkways become a miniature mall, and a temporary glass-walled restaurant offers diners an unobstructed view of the thousands who skate for free in the heart of Manhattan.

The massive and highly anticipated transformation involves a two week effort involving a calculated coordination of trucks, traffic and construction, while managing to keep most of the park open to the public.

Over the years, employees of the Bryant Park Corporation say the process has been tweaked to optimal efficiency, from the moment the first piece of sod is stripped off the lawn to the first skate slicing through the ice around noon on Friday.

“It really happens very fast. Each day you come and something’s different,” said Nell Wright, event producer for the corporation.

“We have a lot of delicate areas to think about,” she added. “There’s a lot going on around us and also inside the park.”

This year, which marks the seventh season for the rink and the 10th for the market, the transition from park to holiday mecca began on Oct. 9, when crews arrived before dawn to start removing sod from the lawn, said Craig LaCaruba, vice president of capital projects for the corporation.

The lawn takes a beating throughout the year, LaCaruba said, and this year it was “decimated” after hosting everything from yoga classes to flocks of sheep to square dancing.

Because of the amount of activity that takes place on the lawn, the surface was completely redesigned back in 2010, partly to bring in a more durable sod blend, LaCaruba said.

But the park also needed to take into account the two-story New York Public Library storage facility full of books that rests just beneath the lawn, and the amount of weight the roof of that underground building can safely support, LaCaruba explained.

Once the sod is removed, LaCaruba said machinery was brought in to flatten the sloping lawn.

Then, on Oct. 11, the load-in process began for the construction equipment and materials that build the rink and the park’s holiday shops.

Wright said that detailed inspections occur three times a day during load in and load out, and she is responsible for monitoring what can be a tricky traffic situation on West 40th Street, as bulky trucks bearing heavy equipment vie for limited parking space on the busy Midtown street.

Those inspections continue on a less regimented basis throughout the two-week-long construction process, during which both the rink and the market rise simultaneously within the park.

Part of streamlining the process of turning the grassy enclave into a winter wonderland included a new addition to the park last year that rid it of the large diesel generators that once sat on West 40th Street and Sixth Avenue, contributing to noise and air pollution and rankling neighbors, LaCaruba said.

“We now have in the park an underground switchgear room, which is essentially a power plant. And now there will never ever be the need for massive diesel generators,” LaCaruba explained, calling the plant a dream some 12 or 15 years in the making.

“Bryant Park was never really designed to be the town hall and the center stage for Midtown Manhattan, so it really didn’t have the electrical distribution and some of the other things in the park, like the lighting, that was necessary to carry on all these activities,” he added. “We [have] become plug and play.”

Over the two-week-long construction process, the shops are the first to take shape, standing empty until vendors begin to fill the cubes with their wares.

A deck is built around the rink, with steps and seating for spectators. A pavilion to house the skate rental facility and some food vendors is built just south of the rink, and on its northeastern edge, the temporary restaurant, Celsius, rises.

Finally, the last step is creating the ice, which Wright said depends heavily on the weather. Rain is the enemy of ice-making, she said, but if the skies remain clear, the ice is frozen steadily, one layer at a time, over the course of several days.

The amount of ice remains the same every year in order to keep the weight in check and the icy surface from impacting the roof of the underground library building, LaCaruba added.

All the park’s winter amenities are produced by Upsilon Ventures and sponsored by Citi. According to Dan Beiderman, head of the Bryant Park Corporation, the collaboration between all the parties allows the park to offer free ice skating, though skate rentals bring in an estimated $1 million.

“Financially, it’s a boon. It allows us to do more flowers, more programming throughout the year,” Biederman explained.

The winter transformation has also filled the park with activity an extra five months out of the year, he added.


February 5th, 2013, 12:18 PM

April 25th, 2013, 08:13 AM
Elevated Mini-Parks and Pop-Up Cafes Part of Planned 41st Street Makeover

April 15, 2013 | By Alan Neuhauser






MIDTOWN — Street seats and three-foot-high "mini parks" — or high-end planters on wheels — could replace parking spaces along a one-block stretch of West 41st Street leading to Bryant Park (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/places/bryant-park).

The plan, titled 'Boulevard 41,' received a thumbs up from Community Board 5 Thursday night. Developed by the Bryant Park Corporation, the roughly $1.2 million proposal is geared toward transforming the shadowy, narrow corridor West 41st Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue into a more lively, colorful and pedestrian-friendly gateway to Bryant Park.

First reported by the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/nyregion/bryant-park-to-broadway-a-boulevard-41-is-proposed.html?_r=1&), details have only recently been released.

"There's a visual disconnect as well as a pedestrian-experience disconnect. This is adding interesting places to sit, adding color, and enlivening the space," Bryant Park Corporation president Dan Biederman said at a March 28 Transportation Committee meeting. "Businesses on the block don't get as much foot traffic as others nearby. It's a way to reclaim space for pedestrians without affecting vehicle traffic."

The plan, designed by Ignacio Ciocchini, the man behind the Department of Transporation's metal CityBenches (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/sidewalks/citybench.shtml), calls for 210 chairs, 42 tables and 15 large trees and rows of planters to be placed along the sides of 41st Street from May to October each year, as well as the upgrade of six light posts and nine private storefronts.

The seats and tables would be arranged to create "pop-up cafes," both at street level atop wooden decks, and on what might best be described as turf- or grass-topped dumpsters.
"Shorter than roll-line containers, they'll look like large, very high-end planters," Biederman said.

The plan would leave gaps between the pop-up cafes to retain some commercial loading zones, but businesses along 41st Street have nonetheless expressed concerns that the plan would hinder deliveries. But the proposal has won overwhelming support from building owners.

It must ultimately win support from the DOT to be implemented. If approved, it could be installed as early as July or August, Biederman said.


April 25th, 2013, 09:49 AM
Will these "parks" be mobile?

Although that would be frustrating to "regular" motorists, I think it would be interesting to have a park appear outside your office one day...

April 25th, 2013, 04:56 PM
41st is a disaster, and it has nothing to do with a lack of green space. This block, along with many others in west midtown, is basically a 24/7 truckstop. Its usually end to end with delivery trucks. There should be laws stating that truck deliveries in manhattan can only be at night, when the streets are empty.

I'd be all for these new planters and mini-parks if it keeps the trucks away.

April 27th, 2013, 08:38 PM
This is really nice and should be replicated elsewhere.

June 5th, 2014, 12:54 AM

June 5th, 2014, 10:20 AM
Do they now show the movies on the east end of Bryant Park?

I used to enjoy going there for Monday Night Movies, but now there's just way too many people.

June 5th, 2014, 10:38 AM
That was for the Rangers game last night.

June 7th, 2014, 12:51 PM
To watch them lose!

December 14th, 2014, 05:31 AM
Granite remains of the 1842 Croton reservoir

It’s always a treat to see bits of New York’s past hidden within the contemporary city.

Case in point: sections of a granite wall once part of the four-acre receiving reservoir at 40th Street and Fifth Avenue, filled in 1842 and lasting through the Gilded Age.


These walls are visible along a staircase in the south wing of the main branch of the New York Public Library, which took the reservoir’s place on that stretch of Fifth Avenue and opened in 1911.

https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/granitereservoir4.jpg?w=300&h=225 (https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/granitereservoir4.jpg)

Imagine what the city was like in the 1840s, when the Croton Aqueduct was completed, and the growing metropolis finally had a ready supply of fresh upstate water.

“Chosen for its location at the highest point of Murray Hill to increase water pressure to densely populated downtown districts, the reservoir was an odd symbol of urban accomplishment,” wrote David Soll in Empire of Water (http://books.google.com/books?id=z5uF0QKsC1AC&pg=PA29&dq=croton+reservoir+42nd+street+egyptian&hl=en&sa=X&ei=TCSFVJDPLoO1sQSyhoGIBg&ved=0CEUQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=croton%20reservoir%2042nd%20street%20egyptian&f=false).

“When completed in 1841, it had few neighbors and towered over the handful of scattered structures in the surrounding area.

Across Fifth Avenue lay ‘an open field, upon which stood a single country house.'”


By the 1860s, New York’s elite promenaded on the reservoir’s walkway, and Fifth Avenue became prime real estate.

In 20 years, calls for the reservoir’s destruction appeared and grew louder; it was obsolete, critics charged, and its Egyptian revival architectural style an eyesore, even after the city planted ivy to cover the Fifth Avenue side.


By 1898, the wrecking ball came. The granite walls in the library are all that remain.

[Third image: the reservoir in 1850; fourth image: in the 1880s; NYPL Digital Collection]


January 19th, 2015, 12:49 AM
This Massive Reservoir Used To Be In Midtown

by Jen Carlson














All courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York (http://collections.mcny.org/)

The Croton Reservoir (http://gothamist.com/tags/crotonreservoir) was a massive above-ground reservoir that held 20 million gallons of water from the Croton River—it boasted walls 50-feet tall and 25-feet wide, and stood where the New York Public Library stands today. To build it, the adjacent plot (now Bryant Park) also needed to be cleared, which meant exhuming thousands of bodies and transporting them to Wards Island, as the land there was a potter's field (http://www.bryantpark.org/about-us/history.html) at the time.

The project was completed in 1842—a moment historian Henry Collins Brown called "the greatest forward stride in the city's history, [with] the general introduction of running water"—but was eventually torn down to make way for the library in 1900. By 1902, the cornerstone was laid for the library's main branch, which still holds part of the reservoir's remnants (http://gothamist.com/2009/05/05/nypl.php?gallery0Pic=24#photo-24) today.

(via Wikipedia)

The NYPL's Angela Montefinise told us this morning that anyone can see these remains—"you can still see it on the lower level of South Court in the Schwarzman Building (near the auditorium). It's not closed off. If you walk into South Court on the first floor and look down, you can see it (if you don't want to go all the way downstairs)." There's also a plaque located in the subway system—on a wall in the passageway that connects the 5th Avenue station and 42nd Street station.

Click through for a look at what the reservoir looked like when it was still standing—in an 1844 edition of the Columbia Spy, Edgar Allen Poe wrote (http://books.google.com/books?id=0ajYl9fPDfMC&pg=PA412&lpg=PA412&dq=edgar+allen+poe+%22When+you+visit+Gotham%22&source=bl&ots=HhtHssXRVt&sig=8RhJjwgYDMCOS6dHMX5HKD9d-bw&hl=en&ei=k8tqS9rDOsGA8QbesLmEBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CAoQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false), “When you visit Gotham, you should ride out Fifth Avenue, as far as the distributing reservoir, near Forty-third Street, I believe. The prospect from the walk around the reservoir is particularly beautiful. You can see, from this elevation, the north reservoir at Yorkville; the whole city to the Battery; and a large portion of the harbor, and long reaches of the Hudson and East Rivers."

That elevation Poe referred to was from the promenade, which hosted groups of gatherers on a daily basis, making for a "delightful scene at night, with the moonlight dancing on the water."


June 23rd, 2015, 10:35 PM
Difficult to imagine it looking like that now. 1970s New York City... :(.

Bryant Park Was Once Nicknamed Needle Park
By Michelle Young


Bryant Park in the 1970s

The arrival of the elevated train on Sixth Avenue in 1878 spelled the beginning of a long decline for Bryant Park, as a shadow was cast on the park making it less desirable. Robert Moses attempted to revitalize the park in the 1930s via a redesign that included adding hedges and an iron fence, which had the inadvertent effect of making it a haven for illicit activity.

By the 1970s, drug dealing, prostitution and homelessness were the defining characteristics of Bryant Park, which was nicknamed “Needle Park.” As the Bryant Park Corporation writes today, “By 1979, New York seemed to have given up Bryant Park for lost as an urban amenity, as well as an historic site.” But new programming in the park began in the late 1970s, the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation was created in 1980, and a redesign of the park was completed by 1992.