Sunday, July 27, 2014

Behind the Scenes: The Running of the Lawn

Behind the Scenes is a weekly Sunday series that covers the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America. From food to films and traditions to (Airstream) trailers, we'll share secrets behind the Film Fest. Stick with us for all 10 weeks; by the end you'll be an expert!  

As you know, the lawn officially opens to the public at 5pm (it rests all day before so it stays soft and green). If the evening's weather is predicted to be especially beautiful, or if the film we're screening is particularly popular, moviegoers start lining up around the lawn's perimeter as early as 3pm, awaiting the announcement that the lawn is officially open. Here's the anatomy of the "lawn running."

Under the watchful eye of the lawn captains, toes and belongings are kept from creeping onto the lawn until the stroke of 5. We wait until 5pm to open because we want to give people who work full-time in nearby office buildings the chance to still get a good spot, even if they're in the office until 5pm. And of course, the delayed opening protects the lawn.

Then at 5, the lawn opens. With a cheer, everyone rushes onto the lawn and settles down on a blanket. Lawn captains dodge out of the way so they don't get trampled!
This panorama shows the view from the ground as moviegoers pick out their spots. Film Fest veterans know not to bring plastic or tarps to sit on, as those materials trap heat and burn holes in the grass; our lawn captains will ask anyone sitting on those materials to please put them away.    
The view from above is even better. From our executive offices, you can see the lawn turn into one big quilt.
The lawn truly fills up. This photo is from opening day of this year's Film Festival, in which we screened Saturday Night Fever. 

Join us this week as we screen Key Largo (1948), the claustrophobic suspense tale of a WWII vet forced into a confrontation with a ruthless gangster and his gang. It all plays out at a seedy Florida hotel during hurricane season. 

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
Mondays, June 16 through August 18
Lawn opens at 5pm
Films start 30 minutes after sunset

Friday, July 25, 2014

Accordions Around the World to Close Season with a Squeezebox Extravaganza

Accordions Around the World is an event that knows how to make an exit. Last year, we ended the series by hosting the American Accordionists' Association. Over 100 accordionists played Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York." This year, we're doing something equally spectacular.

Tuesday is the series finale. We'll have 25 accordionists playing around the park for the full duration of the 2-hour event. You'll be able to sample the musical buffet at a leisurely pace, stopping to enjoy the musicians who are especially appealing to you. Scroll down for a full list of accordionists who will be joining us.

Papa Bavarian - German Oktoberfest/Polka
Albert Behar - French Gypsy Jazz and Waltz Musette
Lauren Brody - Balkan Dance Music
Joshua Camp - Americana Two-Steps/Waltzes
Eduardo de Carvalho - Brazilian songs
Matt Dallow - Eclectic Rock
Papa Joe De Clemente - Italian/American Standards
Robert Duncan - French Musette/Tango/Classical
Melissa Elledge - Not Your Granddaddy's Accordion
Sadys Espitia - Colombian Cumbia/Vallenato
David Hodges - Argentine tango
Mary Spencer Knapp - Cabaret/Rock/Pop
Jody Kruskal - Old American Tunes
Yuri Lemeshev – World/Film/Classical/Jazz
Jenny Luna - Balkan
Christy McNamara - Traditional Irish
Shoko Nagai - Japanese/Jewish Music
Art Now -  Pop/Standards
Niall O'Leary - Irish
George Saenz - Tex-Mex/Soul Groove
Eva Salina - Balkan Ballads
Jordan Shapiro - Balkan/Cajun/British Isles
John Sherman - Cajun/Appalachian/Blues
Paul Stein - Yiddish Music
Brooke Watkins - French Musette/Jazz Standards

Accordions Around the World: Special Finale Event
Tuesday, July 29
5 - 7pm
Throughout park

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Christmas in July: How to Apply for the Holiday Shops

Can you believe that it's almost August? They say time flies when you're having fun, and we certainly enjoy our summers here at the park. Luckily, winter is arriving just as quickly as summer is slipping away, which means it is the perfect time to apply to be a vendor at our Winter Village Holiday Shops.

As a vendor, you'll enjoy being part of our spectacular Bank of America Winter Village, which features over 120 vendors selling a variety of goods, from handmade jewelry to clothing to food and more, and is a must-see destination for tourists and New Yorkers alike. The Winter Village also features NYC's only free ice skating rink, which accommodates hundreds of thousands of skaters each season. Aside from reaping the benefits of foot traffic, vendors enjoy online traffic: many of our vendors have been covered in our Shop the Season blog posts, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

There are a few spots left for the 2014-2015 season, so you'll want to act quickly. E-mail Deborah DiPrisco ( to get the ball rolling, and include the following information: name, type of goods you'd like to sell, and your contact information. We hope you'll apply!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Solar-Powered Charging Stations Land in Bryant Park

At Bryant Park we strive to make users as comfortable as they would be in their own living rooms. We want them to relax, have fun, and spend as much time as possible outdoors. We are always looking for solutions that improve the experience for everyone in the park.

In this case we noticed that most park users carry smart phones and tablets with unpredictable battery life. A low battery indicator can spoil the experience of anyone trying to enjoy a public space. When a technology company approached us in 2012 with their proof-of-concept for a solar-powered charging station, we decided to collaborate with them to turn the idea into a viable product. The concept seemed like a great partner for our free park Wi-Fi, launched in 2002, and our network of 40 wired charging outlets, launched in 2012.

CityCharge is the result of two years of product development collaboration between, Bryant Park Corporation, Green Barrel Energy Inc., a New York City based solar company, and Landscapeforms, USA’s leading manufacturer of high quality street furniture. This urban grade solar-powered charging station comes equipped with six charging cables that can accommodate most electronic devices. The machines are movable and powered entirely by solar energy.

“We are extremely excited about the launch and pleased that the prototype testing in Bryant Park is going really well,” said Tommy Mitchell, Green Barrel Energy Founder and CEO. This summer, Green Barrel Energy plans to install six additional machines in Bryant Park and continue its expansion in New York City and other areas in the US.

“The design was inspired by people and how they use public spaces,” said Ignacio Ciocchini, the Industrial Designer behind CityCharge. “It is round, easy to move, and has a communal table that encourages social interaction.”

Ciocchini, who leads the in-house Design Department for Bryant Park Corporation, also designed the tulip trashcans in Bryant Park and the CityBench for the NYC Department of Transportation. “The product features a blue polycarbonate table that is soft on phone casings and visually connects the product to the sky and nature, where the power comes from,” he added.

CityCharge fits right into any public space and works well with existing chairs, tables, and umbrellas. It has five wheels on swivel casters with brakes so it can be easily repositioned to make room for events, programming, or maintenance activities. It has a solar panel that can be manually rotated to point South, and an internally illuminated power-icon that indicates when the unit is turned on. All the electronic components can be remotely monitored via proprietary web software. These features make it an ideal choice for any public space manager.

The product is a piece of street furniture that can be left outdoors full-time without the need of storage during rain or snow. Most parts are carbon steel with an electro-coated and polyester powder-coated finish. The end result provides incredible protection against rust and UV degradation and is easy to clean with residential grade cleaning products. “Improving environments with design focused engineering solutions is our passion and expertise,” said Robb Smalldon, Manager of Studio 431, Landscape Forms' customs division. “When new technology is incorporated into this equation, it offers all of us a memorable and highly functional experience.”

Green Barrel, Bryant Park, and Landscapeforms are currently developing improvements for CityCharge based on product performance, user comments, and observations on how the public is interacting with the prototypes. The product design, hardware, and engineering teams are collaborating very closely and the resulting product will be commercialized by Green Barrel Energy in the near future.

Bryant Park is one of the busiest public spaces in the world due to its enviable number of things to see and do. Movable chairs, an impeccable lawn surrounded by lush gardens and London Plane trees, beautiful allees, shady and sunny areas, good food, ping-pong tables, an outdoor reading room, a French inspired Carrousel, juggling, knitting, and language classes, are just some of the features of the park. Now you can add solar-powered charging stations to the list.


  • Solar Power Technology by: Green Barrel Energy, Tommy Mitchell, Founder/CEO
  • Product design and product development by: Ignacio Ciocchini, IDSA. Industrial Designer
  • Product Engineering and Manufacturing by: Landscapeforms/Studio 431


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bryant Park Grill Named One of NYC's Best Rooftop Bars

The Bryant Park Grill is one of the loveliest restaurants in the city, sporting floor to ceiling windows with fantastic views of the park, framed in ivy. Even better than the views from inside the restaurant are the views from the restaurant roof, often referred to as "the Garden." Refinery 29 recently included the Garden on a very short list of the bars with the best views of the city (we've got some good company on that list!).

Can't get enough of the Bryant Park Grill? Read our review from 2010, or visit in person!
Peer over the bubblegum petunias and enjoy the park views unfolding beneath you. 

The Garden features prime seating for Broadway in Bryant Park. No one's head is in your way!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Reading Room Cliffs Notes: Week of July 21

Reading Room Cliffs Notes is the essential guide to what's going on in the Reading Room for the upcoming week. The "Flashback" section captures a highlight from last week, while "Foreshadowing" gives a full list of the upcoming week's events. Make a visit to the Bryant Park Reading Room presented by HSBC a plot point in your week!  

Flashback of the Week: Poetry Tribute to Richard Howard
Despite the heavy thunderstorms last Tuesday night, 79 guests attended our Word for Word Poetry program honoring Richard Howard at our indoor rain venue. Richard Howard is a poetry icon and author of fourteen books of poetry. His collection, Without Saying, was the finalist for the 2008 National Book Award in poetry. 
Foreshadowing for the Week of July 21
10:30am: Storytime with Cali Co Cat
"Tails," "meowsic," arts and crafts, and more!
12:30pm: Book Club Discussion of Mansfield Park
Book Club discussion on Jane Austen's Mansfield Park facilitated by Jenny Davidson, Professor of English at Columbia University. Stop by and pick up a free advanced copy of your book club choice while supply lasts. Produced in partnership with Oxford University Press, Inc.   

7pm: Word For Word Poetry in partnership with Kundiman
Michelle Chan Brown, Cathy Linh Che, Eugenia Leigh, Sally Wen Mao, and Patrick Rosal read original works. Produced in partnership with Kundiman

12:30pm: Word for Word Author presents Piper Kerman, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, hosted by Emily Nussbaum, TV Critic at The New Yorker
The author of the memoir that inspired the popular Netflix series stops by Bryant Park to talk about season 2 of the breakout hit, as well as discuss the very story the show is based on - her own.
In case of rain, events are held under a tent at the Reading Room. In case of severe weather, please check our website for the indoor location.
The first person to say "Orange is the New Black" to the Reading Room Coordinator at the event will win a free copy of the book.
7pm: Word for Word Writers presents Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing
Pen your own story, poem, or screenplay, at writers workshops guaranteed to improve and perfect. Pre-registration required. Facilitated by Paul Witcover; produced in partnership with Gotham Writers' Workshop.

12pm: Word for Word Kids presents Justin the Magician
VoilĂ ! Justin The Magician reappears with more tricks up his sleeve and magic from his hat.

12:30pm: Reel Talks
Lively and entertaining commentary on Paranoia in Film. With resident film expert Scott Adlerberg and author Dennis Tafoya.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Behind the Scenes: The HBO Dance

Behind the Scenes is a weekly Sunday series that covers the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America. From food to films and traditions to (Airstream) trailers, we'll share secrets behind the Film Fest. Stick with us for all 10 weeks, and by the end you'll be an expert!  

If you have ever attended our HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, you have surely encountered the HBO dance. A half hour after sunset, when the park has grown dark and everyone is on the edge of their seats (or blankets), waiting for the film to begin, the old-school HBO trailer comes on and the audience leaps to their feet.

The trailer itself is a piece of HBO history: it used to play once every night right before the 9pm HBO movie. The version of the trailer that we now see at the Film Festival in Bryant Park is actually its second version. In its first rendition, the trailer included an image of an old-fashioned TV with a channel-tuning knob. Once that technology grew outdated, HBO re-filmed their trailer to appear more relevant to the time. 

The crowd gets ready to dance as the HBO logo zooms in from outer space.
The beginning of the HBO dance tradition is unknown. It seems people spontaneously started to dance as the trailer came on the big screen. We don't blame them, either, as the dance is the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs between picnicking and the start of the film. 

The famed dance has even made its way south to Washington D.C., where we’ve been told the dance has caught on during other HBO screenings. Clearly, the HBO dance has gone national.

Next time you visit the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, be sure to join in on this favorite tradition, and get up and dance! This week is your perfect opportunity as we screen National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), in which the Griswold family's cross-country trip to a theme park turns into the road trip from hell.

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival 
Mondays, June 16 through August 18
Lawn opens at 5pm
Films start 30 minutes after sundown