Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Learn to Shimmy and Shake with Dancing in Bryant Park

For 6 weeks this summer, lace up your dancing shoes and boogie til the sun sets with Dancing in Bryant Park. One part lesson and one part party, you'll learn to move like the pros and have the time of your life. First-rate live bands accompany each dance event so you'll feel like you're in Rio, Detroit, or Buenos Aires! Talia Castro-Pozo, the genius behind Sunset Salsa and Latin Mondays at TAJ in NYC, hosts this social dance party open to all ages and skill levels.

Park goers swing dance on the Fountain Terrace last summer.
May 7--Salsa 
Instruction by Sekou McMiller and Talia Castro-Pozo; sounds by Mitch Frohman and the Bronx Horns Mambo Orchestra

May 14--Brazilian 
Instruction by Danielle Andrade and Jim Buglatz; sounds by the Nanny Assis Group

May 21--Argentine Tango
Instruction by Mariana Parma and HernĂ¡n Brizuela; sounds by Sofia Tosello y Los Varones del Tango

May 28--Swing
Instruction by Evita Arce and Peter Bullen; sounds by Glenn Crytzer's Quintette

June 4--Bachata
Instruction by Talia Castro-Pozo and Alejandro Bouza; sounds by Grupo Voz a Voz

June 11--Motown
Instruction by Marielys Molina and Rickey Tripp from Motown The Musical on Broadway; sounds by Pete Brown and The Rhythm Dogs

Dancing in Bryant Park 
Wednesdays, May 7 to June 11
6:00pm to 8:30pm
Fountain Terrace

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Tables, Now New and Improved

The Tables first debuted in 2009. We saw the resurgence of ping pong as a pastime throughout the city, and seized the opportunity to bring the game and equipment to the great outdoors for free. The Tables were an instant hit. With waitlists for our monthly tournaments, and 45 minute queue times at lunch to play, there is no shortage of enthusiasm for the area.

Before: The Tables in June 2013

Through last year, The Tables were located on a surface of granite slabs, surrounded by compacted gravel. With the growing enthusiasm for the ping pong area, the surface could not hold up to the high traffic and active use in the area. The transition between the two materials was hard to maintain, and with frequent divots, the surface was often unsafe or filled with puddles.

Puddling and erosion created a hazardous condition at the back of the play area.
When we set out to create a better play surface, we analyzed the area holistically, and made a huge wishlist of improvements. We believe a well maintained park creates a safer environment and fosters positive use of public space. In the end, creating an identity for the space, encouraging mixed use, and softening the edges with color, design, and horticulture were close seconds the new ground covering.

The new area is bordered with artificial turf grass, and incorporates bold pops of orange and green color. This new color scheme reflects popular colors in the sport, mirroring orange from the balls and green from our Joola tables. The turf adds a softer side, reminiscent of flowers and plant material, but with the added advantage of being hardy enough to withstand the foot traffic in the area.

After: The Tables on Opening Day 2014

We find that many people who come to play ping pong in the park, spend longer lengths of time sitting. We decided to customize the furniture for this area to make users more comfortable. Coming soon, you'll see a set of ping pong specific furniture for the area with chairs, tables, stools, and a couple of benches.

Simulation of new design for The Tables

The Tables
April - September
Daily, 11am-7pm*
October - November
Daily, 11am-6pm*
*All hours weather permitting

Monday, April 21, 2014

Celebrate Earth Day at Bryant Park

Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day, a day meant to show commitment to environmental protection. Here are some of the ways that Bryant Park commits to the environment every day.

1) Lawn and Gravel
Have you ever been in a New York City thunderstorm with surging gutters and puddles everywhere? These drainage issues are caused because the asphalt, granite, and concrete that cover much of NYC's surface are non-porous; instead of draining into these materials, water is diverted by gravity into the underground sewers. In contrast, our lawn and gravel areas are porous and absorb storm runoff. The lawn and gravel return return water to the water table, and also keep the park looking green.

The lawn and gravel meld beauty and sustainability.

2) Bryant Park Shop Products
You can combine your love of shopping with concern for the environment. Our Klean Kanteens save hundreds of plastic water bottles from landfills. Our baby and kids' Le Carrousel tees are made of 100% organic cotton. Our tote bags (three styles to choose from) last longer than a plastic or paper grocery bag. In fact, our Barricade Cover Totes are recycled from retired barricade covers, and made in cooperation with Urban Samaritan, which gives the homeless job skills and paid work. Helping humans and the environment sounds like a win-win to us!

3) Recycling
This February, Alcoa donated $50,000 to Bryant Park to assist in our recycling efforts. As the park becomes more popular as a lunch and tourist destination, it produces more trash--and more opportunities to recycle.  The park's goal for this year is to recycle 10,950 pounds of aluminum (cans) and 50,000 pounds of other materials like glass and paper.

Our iconic "tulip" cans are stationed around the park for your convenience.
4) Furniture
Did you know that much of the furniture around the park is made of excess skate ramp material? The seating at the Southwest Porch and ping pong area come from Loll furniture, which unites sustainability and style.

The seating at the Southwest Porch is modern and inviting.

5) Food
'wichcraft, which has several kiosks in the park, is committed to using sustainable, seasonal, and local food whenever possible. Whether you're enjoying a pole-caught tuna sandwich or the seasonal BLT with greenmarket tomatoes, you know you're getting a delicious and sustainable meal.

6) Plants
Our plants, which range from decades-old London Plane trees to newly-planted pansies, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This helps to lessen NYC's carbon footprint and ease global warming. Our beautiful horticulture displays provide a source of joy, and perhaps may inspire the next great environmentalist!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sightseeing from Inside the Park: 42nd Street Beauties

Bryant Park is a beautiful place that is enhanced by our impressive park neighbors. In this series of posts, we play "tour guide" and detail the striking buildings that can be seen from inside the park.

Connecting landmarks like Grand Central Station on the east side and Times Square on the west, 42nd Street is known by tourists and native New Yorkers alike. This important thoroughfare is near and dear to Bryant Park as it borders us to our north. Such a high-traffic street is a showcase for impressive buildings.

Both the Bank of America Tower (left) and the Grace Building (right), as seen from the park during this year's Winter Village (that's Celsius across the bottom of the photo).
One Bryant Park, Bank of America Tower
designed by Cook + Fox, 2009
113 West 42nd Street, NW corner of 6th Avenue and 42nd Street

This anchor on the northwest corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue is the second tallest building in New York City. Its multifaceted glass and colorful LED spire draw attention to the building day or night. The building, at 55 stories, is the home of our Winter Village title sponsor, Bank of America.

W. R. Grace Building
designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1974
1114 6th Avenue, 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues

This building is best know for its dramatic swoop away from Bryant Park, reminiscent of a ski slope. The building's facade on 43rd Street is identical to that on its 42nd Street side, and is the result of zoning laws that required setbacks away from the street.

Further east on 42nd Street, the Chrysler Building rises from the skyline.
Chrysler Building
designed by William Van Alen, 1930
405 Lexington Avenue, NE corner E. 42nd Street

The Chrysler Building, the fourth tallest in the city, tops off at 1048 feet and is known for its lacy top floors and needle-sharp spire. Built in the Art Deco style, this building emphasizes vertical lines and geometric embellishment. The tallest brick structure in the world, the building housed the headquarters of Chrysler Corporation for a quarter of a century.

You can see all this excellent architecture--and more, which we'll describe in upcoming posts--without leaving the park!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reading Room Season Starts with Poem in Your Pocket Day

The traditional start of the Reading Room summer season, marked by Poem in Your Pocket Day, is upon us. Next Thursday, April 24, the 12th annual Poem in Your Pocket Day will bring student poets from fifteen New York City schools and writers groups to read their original works in an open mic format. This all day event, led by emcee Daniel Kitrosser, consistently draws over 1,000 people to the Reading Room.

Ramya Ramana, voted the NYC Youth Poet Laureate at the 5th Annual Youth Voter Poetry Slam Finals, will read an original work. She performed an original poem at the 2014 NYC Mayoral Inauguration.

A student reads during Poem in Your Pocket Day 2013. Photo by Angelito Jusay Photography.
Aside from the poetry readings, there will be performances by two groups. The Peace Poets is a collective of artists that celebrate, examine, and advocate for life through music and poetry; HumUni (hyoom-you-nigh) is a hip hop duo from Brooklyn whose sound is a combination of A Tribe Called Quest, OutKast, and BlackStar.

If you are a New York City student aged 18 or under, you may register to read your poem by emailing

Poem in Your Pocket Day
Thursday, April 24
11am - 2pm
Reading Room

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cast and Rig with Bryant Park Fly Fishing

We like to surprise our park patrons with creative programming, like our fly fishing lessons. Fly fishing without water? Yes, it is possible!

From the steps of the New York Public Library, you can perfect your technique so you can get straight to fishing the next time you're on the water. Experts from Orvis will help you rig your tackle and offer other tips and tricks. Register at 212-827-0698.

If you can't make it out to the water on a weekend, do the next best thing and join us for fly fishing in the park!

Check out this video, in which Orvis experts explain what they like so much about fly fishing.

Bryant Park Fly Fishing
Library Terrace
Saturdays, April 19 to June 14, July 19
10am - 12pm

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mother's Day Special

We've got a deal for our Mother's Day shoppers this year: the first five people who buy our "Meet Me in Bryant Park" envelope pendant receive a free anniversary tote.

Be one of the first five to buy this,
 and you get this...
If you need any other ideas for mom, be sure to visit our online shop and browse Bryant Park T-Shirts, film festival blanket, home decor (including our vintage bistro tables and chairs), commemorative chair plaque, or even our 'wichcraft gift certificate or cookbook. If she's a fan of Bryant Park, you'll definitely find something special for her in our shop!