Thursday, March 26, 2015

New for Spring: Join Us for Park Tours!

Have you ever walked through the park and wondered any of the following:
  • What is the history of this area, before the park was a park? 
  • How is the park funded? 
  • How do you come up with your ideas for events?
  • What is next in store at the park? 
  • Does the park offer tours?
Until recently, the answer to the last question was "No." We've worked all winter to turn that "No" into a "Yes!" Starting April 8, you can join us for once-weekly free public tours of the park. You'll learn the answers to the above questions, and so much more.

Tours are every Wednesday at 11am. Pre-registration is required; you may register here.  
Photo: Jusay Photography
For group reservations, private tours, and presentations to industry leaders, please go to our tours page for more information.

Bryant Park Public Tours
April 8 - October 28
Wednesdays, 11am
Meet at The Fountain

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ask Bryant Park: Why Is the Lawn Brown?

Lawn roll-out is always an exciting time as it marks the return of one of Bryant Park's best features and the coming arrival of spring. However, if you look at the grass right now, it is not the vibrant green that we've come to expect in the summer months. Here's a quick explanation of the lawn's color.

The sod, a mix of Kentucky Bluegrass and fescue, has been growing for at least two years at a sod farm on Long Island. We purchase mature grass because the roots are more established, meaning that the grass will be better able to withstand heavy use during the summer months.

This photo, taken during this year's lawn installation, reveals the color of the dormant grass. 
During the winter, the grass goes dormant and turns brown. It is not dead, but rather awaiting temperatures consistently in the 60s. Those temperatures will signal to the grass that it is time to come out of dormancy and turn green again!

As part of the re-awakening process, root systems from individual pieces of sod will knit together (think of a quilt). As part of the knitting process, the pixellated appearance of the lawn will fade out and the grass color will be more consistent.

This photo was taken on the first day the lawn was open in 2014. Though the lawn is currently far from this vibrant green color, it will soon transform. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

King Kubbs, Connect Four, Colored Pencils, and More Return To The Park

April 1 is the traditional opening date for Bryant Park Amenities, our activity areas that are staffed from April through October. This year is no exception! Expect your favorite activities to return, with some exciting upgrades to make this summer the best yet.

Art Cart expands this year from its first experimental summer, and will have similar hours as the other amenities. This year, enjoy Structured Play with instructors and materials from Artist & Craftsman and Drawing Lessons. As in previous years, materials are provided by Materials for the Arts
The Green is the home of Putting and Kubb. This year, expect the return of August Putting Tournaments (grand prize to be provided by Golfsmith). Following the success of last year's Kubb Tournament on the lawn, there are three tournaments scheduled on the lawn this summer. 

The Green.
In other tournament news, the number of Ping Pong Tournaments at The Tables will be more than doubled this year. In addition to the regularly scheduled Ping Pong Monthly Tournaments, there will be Monthly Mixed Doubles Tournaments, and a Women's Tournament scheduled for August 12.

The Tables.
Bryant Park Games continues its Game Socials, this year with Scrabble, Settlers of Catan, and Apples to Apples on the weekly lineup. Mah Jongg clinics continue this year as well. Bryant Park Chess introduces Beginner Chess Socials on Thursdays.

Pétanque players will notice that the area is much brighter. Improved lighting has been installed this year for better evening visibility.

All photos by Jusay Photography.

Hours vary slightly by amenity; check our website for exact hours.

April and October
Daily, 11am - 6pm

May - September
Daily, 11am - 7pm

Monday, March 23, 2015

Grass Returns to Bryant Park

Yesterday we welcomed the appearance of one of the surest signs of spring--the lawn!
As in previous years, green ribbons of sod were rolled out across the lawn. It took 26 workers 10 hours to complete the dramatic transformation. The sod is comprised of ten percent Kentucky Bluegrass and ninety percent fescue, and comes from a sod farm in Long Island.
77 pallets of sod await roll-out--46,200 square feet in total! 

The view from above. The discolorations between strips of sod will fade as roots intertwine.

Opening for lazy days and bare feet in the first two weeks of May.

Friday, March 20, 2015

No Spring Chicken: Benito Juarez Turns 209 Years Old on the First Day of Spring

The park has many monuments, the most iconic of which are our statue of William Cullen Bryant, the park's namesake, and our Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain, New York City's first statue dedicated to a woman. We have other statues commemorating great lives, and our Benito Juarez statue on the Sixth Avenue side of the park is no exception. Tomorrow, March 21 (also the first day of spring), Benito Juarez turns 209 years old.

Benito Juarez keeps a careful eye from his perch on Sixth Avenue.
The Benito Juarez statue is the park's newest, installed in 2004. For the past several years, the Mexican Consulate has celebrated his birthday by placing flowers at the base of the statue and posing for a photo.

Members of the Mexican Consulate pose with the statue after placing a beautiful bouquet.
Taken from the Bryant Park website:

A gift from the State of Oaxaca to the City of New York, this statue, handcrafted by Moises Cabrera Orozco, is the first Mexican figure to be placed in the city of New York. Juárez is a Mexican national hero and Mexico’s first president of Indian descent. Revered by his countrymen as a great political leader, Juarez proclaimed the “Reforma Laws”, thus establishing the foundation for the Mexican Republic and preserving the independence of México.

Happy birthday, Benito Juarez!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mosaic Mural Uncovered Near Bryant Park

The building in which the Bryant Park executive offices are located, 5 Bryant Park (just across 6th Avenue from the park and a great vantage point for aerial photographs of the park), is undergoing a facelift.

As part of the renovations, the building exterior is being re-clad. When the old facade was removed, a gorgeous mosaic by artist Max Spivak was uncovered.

The mural was uncovered earlier this week during construction work.
The WPA artist lived in Manhattan. He was briefly an accountant before concentrating full time on his art. Spivak's mosaics were commissioned for public buildings around the city, including schools, libraries, and office buildings. For more information about the artist, check out his obituary in the New York Times.

The artist poses in front of his mosaic in a photograph dated from 1957.
Image from Archive of American Art

The discovery of this forgotten mural made us wonder: what other gems of New York art are hidden?

This is not the first time that there has been beautiful public art at 5 Bryant Park. For more information about Art Battles, a recent exhibit, head over to Untapped Cities.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ask Bryant Park: How Do I Use the Programming Sign System?

In an effort to make the park extremely easy to navigate, we utilize lots of different signs. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, and serve a variety of purposes. We realize that this variety of signs could be bewildering to a guest, so here is a quick explanation of the philosophy behind our sign system. You'll be a pro at navigating the park!

This post deals with Programming Signs. For more information on other park signs, stay tuned.

Amenity Sign
These are the largest signs we have in the park. They live at our permanent activity zones (for example, the Reading Room, Ping Pong, and Le Carrousel) to offer more detailed information about activities in those areas, including the speaker schedule, tournaments, and special events.

This amenity sign at Le Carrousel goes into further detail about children's events and hosting parties.

14" x 22" Stanchion Signs
These signs live in the same zone as our weekly programs. For example, a Bryant Park Yoga sign on the Upper Terrace gives information about the program, while indicating that the program takes place in the same area as the sign. That's an easy way to find the class or event you're looking for!

The Accordions stanchion sign is located on the Fountain Terrace, so you know that is where the event takes place. 

28" x 44" Event Signs
These large signs are wheeled out for the duration that an event is taking place. These signs serve to provide more information and help in "placemaking," helping to set off an event space.

These large events signs offer information about that week's event. For example, it was Motown Week in the Dancing in Bryant Park series when this photo was taken. 

Now that you have a little bit of know-how, you'll navigate park programming and events with ease!