Friday, August 22, 2014

Southwest Porch Hosts US Open Watch Parties

The US Open returns to Flushing, New York on August 25, which means that viewing parties are returning to the Southwest Porch. Join us from August 25 through September 8, when the Porch wheels out its trusty 55 inch television to show the matches. Don't miss a single serve or point from Serena, Djokovic, or Federer. The games will be shown weather permitting, and with he games will be shown with sound depending on other park events scheduled for that day.

During the viewings, 'wichcraft offers a food and drink special. Purchase any entree with a beer or wine for $17.

Enjoy gorgeous weather and excellent tennis playing. 

The US Open Viewing Parties are a fantastic way to spend a lunch break!

US Open Viewing Parties
August 25 - September 4, 11am and 7pm
September 5 and 6, 11am only
September 7, 12pm
September 8, 5pm
Southwest Porch

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ask Bryant Park: What are the Daily Amenities?

In the Ask Bryant Park series, we hope to shed light on questions the public frequently pose to us about the park. If you have a question you'd like us to cover in this series, please comment below or email us at

We are frequently asked about the many activities available in the park, like ping pong, the putting green, and Petanque (among others). These are what we call "Amenities," meaning they are permanent parts of the park that are open daily and do not require any pre-registration or reservation. We want you to be able to enjoy these activities as much as you would like, which is why we have dedicated so much of the park to a variety of amenities.

These activities are all available in addition to our regularly scheduled and special events, which you can find on the online calendar. Just like laundry or a pool is an amenity for an apartment building, the putting green and Art Cart are amenities for the park! To find out more about our amenities, see below for a short list or check out our "Things To Do" page instead for a complete calendar of our amenities and descriptions for each. We also hold periodic events at some of our amenities, like Tournaments and Championships, so be sure to check out our calendar for information about those.

Ping Pong
Open daily, weather permitting (April-September: 11am-7pm; October-November: 11am-6pm)
Located in the park along 42nd Street near 6th Avenue, the Tables are the perfect place to meet friends for a match (or make friends during a match!). It is completely free to play, all equipment is provided, and all you have to do is put your name down with the Games Attendant to reserve the next open slot. If you're feeling more competitive, we also offer monthly Ping Pong Tournaments.

A crowd of spectators watch a game get going on the Tables.
Bryant Park Games
Open daily, weather permitting (April: 11am-6pm; May-September: 11am-7pm; October: 11am-6pm)
Whether you have a specific game in mind or just feel like sitting down and rolling the dice, the Games Area has a collection of over 30 games that are free to use. We also offer Games Socials which provide the opportunity to meet new opponents in a fun and open setting.

Open daily, weather permitting (April: 11am-6pm; May-September: 11am-7pm; October: 11am-6pm)
Know how to play chess and looking for a partner? Or maybe you have always wanted to learn? Our resident Chess expert is on hand to either match you with an opponent or show you the ropes.

The Green
Open daily, weather permitting (April: 11am-6pm; May-September: 11am-7pm; October: 11am-6pm)
Unsurprisingly, there aren't many golf courses in Midtown. But fear not! Bryant Park's putting green is the perfect place to brush up on your putting skills. Whether you're a pro or just want to hit the ball around, the Green is your own little slice of a golf course right in the middle of the city.

Art Cart
Open daily, weather permitting (June-September: Monday 12pm-4pm, Tuesday-Friday 12pm-6pm)
Get your creative juices flowing at the Bryant Park Art Cart. Use your lunch break to make a masterpiece or bring the kids to make some arts and crafts with professional-quality materials provided by Materials for the Arts.

The Art Cart's variety of materials provide endless options for crafty fun.
Open daily, weather permitting (Monday-Friday: 11am-6pm)
Petanque, a French game of boules, is located on the 6th Avenue side of the park. Learn to play with an instructor from La Boule New Yorkaise, participate in one of our monthly tournaments, or book a private party!

Le Carrousel
June - October: Daily 11am-8pm
November - January: Sunday-Thursday 11am-9pm; Friday & Saturday: 11am-10pm
February: Thursday-Sunday: 11am-6pm
March-May: Daily, 11am-7pm
Our very own Bryant Park Carousel offers a great time for the kids (or adults - we don't judge!). Made to complement the park's French classical style, the carousel is adorned with characters, including Flaubert Frog, our semi-official park mascot!

Reading Room
Open daily 11am-7pm
Whether you bring your own book or borrow one from our large collection, the Reading Room is the perfect place to sit back and enjoy a good read. The area is stocked with tons of our favorite bistro chairs and a Reading Room Attendant is always on hand.

Even outside all of our events going on in the park, there is still a ton to do. We want the park to be active and fun at all hours so all of these amenities are open daily for most of the day. Stop by to try one out during lunch or spend an entire afternoon trying out all of our activities!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bryant Park By The Numbers: The Bottom Line

We keep thousands of data points about the park, from the number of chairs we have to the number of guests we have during the day. The data help us identify trends in park usage, predict problems, and operate the park efficiently. Every week, we share a new data point in our e-newsletter, MidCity News, in a section called "Bottom Line." Here is a selection of some of our recent Bottom Lines. 

69. On June 26, Bryant Park Tai Chi set a one-day attendance record with 69 participants. Come see for yourself what makes Bryant Park Tai Chi so popular. It meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 - 8:30am, at the Fountain Terrace. 

By taking counts at our tai chi classes, we know that attendance is growing this year. 

38. Heading into peak season, Bryant Park Corporation has a staff of 38 dedicated sanitation and hospitality employees poised to keep the park clean and well maintained for thousands of daily visitors.

605 park visitors enjoyed free art and craft supplies from the Bryant Park Art Cart during its opening month.

499. Fans of Le Carrousel at Bryant Park are learning that the Discount Card, giving ten rides for $15, is the best deal in town. In June, we sold a record 499 cards. 

Tallying Discount Card sales at Le Carrousel help us gauge interest in group carrousel rides, and plan for other possible discount programs. 

110An Indigo Bunting was spotted on one of the last 2014 Spring Birding Tours, bringing the total number of bird species officially seen at Bryant Park to 110. Look for Fall Birding Tours to begin on Thursday, September 25.

77 pallets, each with 600 square feet of sod grown in Long Island, were delivered to the park for the Bryant Park lawn installation on Saturday, March 22.

Subscribe to MidCity News to read more Bottom Lines, and to be in the loop with news, events, and information from Bryant Park and our sister district 34th Street Partnership. For additional information about data we keep at the park, check out this blog post

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Leaf"ing Summer Behind

As much as we hate to admit that summer is drawing to a close (with yesterday's final screening in the 2014 Bryant Park Film Festival season a sure sign of cooler weather to come), the leaves of our London Plane trees are indicating the end of the season in no uncertain terms. London Planes tend to shed their leaves in mid-August, making them one of the earliest leaf-shedders. Here are some photos of our recent ground cover.

A mosaic of leaves accents the Upper Terrace. 

That's a pretty big pile for August!

This is just one of hundreds of bags of leaves that will be swept from the allees. 

It's nice to see fall colors again, even if that also means that summer is ending.

You know what leaves on the ground means--snow is closer than we think!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Reading Room Cliffs Notes: Week of August 18

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: Batman's 75th Anniversary 
“It set a precedent for me. I guess personally about the character, more than any other character, more than Spiderman, more than Superman, more than anyone… that Batman lived in the world we knew and he fought the problems that we fought or were afraid of, and that was immediately enticing about Batman – and when I knew he would be my favorite character” – Scott Synder

Foreshadowing for the Week of August 18
Book Club discussion on Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Facilitated by Garnette Cagodan, Arts and Culture Writer. Produced in partnership with Oxford University Press, Inc.   

7pm: Word For Word Poetry in partnership with Red Hen Press
Douglas Kearney, LaTasha Diggs, Andrea Scarpino, and Rachel Eliza Griffiths read original works. Produced in partnership with Red Hen Press

The Spotted Pig-founder, renowned chef, and cookbook author at a special lunchtime edition of Taste Talks - a 2-day showcase of culinary workshops and discussions by top chefs and experts on the latest trends in food and drink. 
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 "Taste Talks" to the Reading Room Coordinator at the event will win a free copy of the book.

12pm: Word for Word Kids presents Superhero Captain Underpants!
Graphic Novel Superhero Captain Underpants joins Cali Co Cat for crafts, games and fun, fun, fun under the Bryant Park sun! Produced in partnership with The Scholastic Store.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Scott Adlerberg on "The Shining"

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! 

In this final installment of the 2014 Behind the Scenes series, resident film expert Scott Adlerberg, who hosts the Reel Talks discussions, shares his first experience viewing this week's film, The Shining (1980). 

Few movies have grown on me over the years as much as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has. I first saw it when I was seventeen years old, on its opening day – May 23, 1980.  Never had I been as excited to see a film. I’d read and loved the novel by Stephen King, which, to this day, I consider a horror masterpiece. Stanley Kubrick was already one of my favorite directors: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barry Lyndon, and even A Clockwork Orange (which I saw on HBO) were all movies I’d seen more than once.  When the news had come out that Kubrick was adapting King’s novel, I could barely believe it. The very idea of Kubrick doing a horror film, my favorite genre then, was thrilling, and that he would adapt my favorite horror novel seemed like something I’d dreamt. Then to hear that none other than Jack Nicholson would star in the lead role as Jack Torrance was the icing on the cake.  I knew, positively knew, this would be a film I would see, consider great, and instantly rank among my all-time favorites.

It didn’t quite happen that way. Kubrick’s film makes a number of key changes to King’s book, and when I first saw the movie, these alterations bothered me. I understood that film adaptations don’t have to follow their source material and sometimes improve upon their source material by making changes, but the book version of The Shining seemed so well-suited to be a movie, I wondered why Kubrick had changed it. Of course I also grasped that Kubrick was being himself, the inimitable and original Stanley K, and that he had chosen the book not to rehash King’s ideas of fear and horror but to develop his own.

There is plenty of light in the park so you won't be too scared during the horror film. For more information about the lighting during the Film Festival, check out this blog post

In a nutshell, one could say that King’s book goes for both psychological and visceral horror. The characters face emotional demons and physical threat. And you like and care for these people, including, up to a point, the tormented Jack Torrance, who transforms from troubled but loving husband and father into a homicidal raging monster trying to kill his wife and son. It’s the primal quality of that transformation – father as protector into father as monstrous destroyer – that carries power in the book, and as the story's tension grows, you are right there with the characters, feeling the conflicting emotions of each.

Kubrick, on the other hand, keeps you at a distance. He cast Shelly Duval as Jack’s wife Wendy in part because, superb actress though she is, she has a slightly eccentric quality that doesn’t make her “audience-friendly”. Even Danny Lloyd, who plays their son Danny, has an aloof manner. The film unfolds in a way that is more like a slow burn than a traditional horror thriller, and this rhythm, even as a Kubrick fan, annoyed me a bit. Added to which was the film’s ending, the last scene, something not in the book. While King resolves the novel with safety and closure, the horror finished (though there will be mental scars), Kubrick’s movie ends on an enigmatic note that left me frustrated. It didn’t seem necessary. Why couldn’t Kubrick, for once, just do things in a straightforward way? I asked myself. He had topnotch horror material yet he directed it to create conundrum upon conundrum, going for creepiness more than real horror. I’d enjoyed the sardonic notes in the film – vintage Kubrick (and Nicholson) – and especially liked the last forty five minutes, when Nicholson is in full psycho mode pursuing Danny and Wendy, but the lead up to that part and its aftermath left me feeling disappointed. Still, I couldn’t let it go at that.  This was a Stanley Kubrick film and nobody ever said Kubrick’s films are easy. You have to wrestle with them. You have to see them two or three times to do them justice. As I was leaving the theater, mulling over the film, I was certain I’d be seeing it again.

Thankfully the Looney Tunes cartoon that precedes every film screening in the Film Festival will help cut the tension before this Monday's horror film.
And I have. Many times since then, with an appreciation that grew and grew until now I see it as one of the great horror films. It does indeed build gradually, emphasizing eeriness and disorientation over shocks. It has an unnerving mood like no other film. True, you don’t get as emotionally attached to the characters as you do to King’s, but you watch with mounting dread as this small family unit, in chilling increments, implodes. There has never been a more disturbing portrayal of a writer blocked than Jack Nicholson in this movie, and the scene where Wendy discovers what he has been writing for weeks and weeks instead of his supposed novel is a definite classic. As with all Kubrick films, the music is effective - dissonant, jarring - and the famous Kubrick tracking shots make the Overlook Hotel seem at once huge and claustrophobic. By the time Nicholson’s character loses it and starts wielding an ax to kill his wife and son, you are mesmerized and on edge. The suspense of the last 45 minutes gets your pulse racing. You may sweat, but you also feel cold. You feel as if you’re trapped with Danny and Wendy in the snowbound hotel. And the riddles Kubrick poses, the multiple interpretations possible to explain everything that occurred? Now, to me, these only make the film seem richer – one reason I can see it over and over.

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

Loves' Labour's Lost is Found in Bryant Park

Last night witnessed the first performance of Boomerang Theater's production of Love's Labour's Lost, Shakespeare's romantic comedy that follows young men's thwarted efforts to forego women for a year. The performance commences the second half of the Bryant Park Shakespeare series.

The series is completely free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. There are 8 more performances remaining in the series, so you have plenty of time to check out what everyone's talking about.

The perfect weather, intimate seating, and charming play make a great evening.
A member of the audience takes a photo of the event, in the lower left corner of this photo. Don't forget to tag your Instagrams, Tweets, and Facebook posts with the hashtag #BPShakespeare.

Actresses in the production wait offstage for their turn in the spotlight. 

Love's Labour's Lost, presented by Boomerang Theater Company
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
August 14 - 30
Upper Terrace steps