Wednesday, October 12, 2016

As One Reading Room Closes, Another Re-opens

From famous authors to Spelling Bees, our 2016 season saw tons of great speakers, workshops, and literary events at the Bryant Park Reading Room. But like every good novel, this story has completed its arc. The Reading Room closed for the season on September 28th.

We were pleased to present more than 100 literary programs at the Reading Room in 2016, including appearances by writers of fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, writings workshops, and programs for children.

Summer Saturdays were filled with stories, music, magic and visits from our favorite literary characters. Comic-Con kids presented an afternoon filled with superheroes, action-adventurers, and graphic novels. Photo: Angelito Jusay
This year, we tapped into the popular culture of crosswords by introducing Coffee & Crosswords, a program that included two workshops filled with valuable tips and advice on solving puzzles, as well as our first-ever crossword tournament. This program was a big hit, and we’re looking forward to bringing it back in 2017.

This year we saw Bryant Park's first ever Crossword Tournament. Solvers competed on three original puzzles by crossword guru Mike Shenk. Photo: Angelito Jusay
While this marks the end of the Reading Room for now, think of this season as an anthology: simply one of many great editions. Keep on the look out for announcements about our indoor Word for Word Winter Poetry lineup as well as details about our 2017 season!

The Reading Room is home to the Park's annual Spelling bee, co-hosted by comedians Olivia Petzy and Kevin James Doyle. Unlike the spelling bees of your youth, these are adult-only affairs with cheeky commentary to boot. Photo: Angelito Jusay

If ever there were a consolation prize, here is it: the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library has finally re-opened! After shuttering in May of 2014 for much-needed renovations, the iconic Beaux Arts space has finally returned to provide one of the most tranquil public co-working spaces in the city. Keep your eyes peeled for the "Book Train," which whisks material from the Milstein Research Stacks deep below the park.
Make sure to check out NYPL's Reading Room during your next visit to the park!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Know Before You Go: Weekend of October 1 and 2

Bryant Park is the site of the first-ever Roots Picnic NYC, a two-day music festival taking place on October 1 and 2. As this festival makes its first foray into the Big Apple, there are some operational changes we'd like you to be aware of.

If you're not going to the concert...
Sections of the park will be closed to the general public starting Friday at midnight. You can still enjoy a meal at the Bryant Park Cafe or Bryant Park Grill during that time. We expect Wafels & Dinges to be open to the public as well. The Art Cart, on the Fifth Avenue Terrace, will be open from 12:30pm - 6pm. Park operations will return to normal on Monday morning at 7am.

There are still some tickets available for the concert, so click here to purchase if you'd like to attend.

Roots Picnic NYC comes to the park on October 1 and 2. 

If you're joining us for the concert...
Enter the park from Sixth Avenue by our Fountain. Ping pongputting and kubb, and Le Carrousel will be open for your enjoyment. Our food kiosks--Le Pain QuotidienCOFFEED, and Southwest Porch will be open for business; additional pop-up food and drink vendors will be present at the concert also. Outside food and drink are prohibited, as well as smoking in the park and bringing chairs from home. Read a full concert FAQ here.

The forecast currently predicts a chance of rain, so please dress appropriately for the weather. Our lawn will likely get muddy, so take that into consideration!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Square Dance 2016 Raffle Prizes and Rules

Bryant Park Square Dance is not only a fantastic time to try your hand at the Virginia Reel, or to perfect your trick roping technique; it is also the perfect opportunity to try your hand at a game of chance!

We're raffling off a pair of Southwest Air® go-anywhere tickets--yes, you really can choose your destination!--so start thinking of which pardner you'd like to take with you. We also have tons of great prizes from Bryant Park businesses, including the Bryant Park Shop and several of our in-park food kiosks. Did we mention that the raffle entry is free? One entry per person, please.

When you win a raffle prize, you'll be jumping for joy!
Photo: Angelito Jusay Photography.
Entry for the raffles opens at the event start time (6pm on Friday, and 3pm on Saturday), and closes at 7:15pm each day. The Bryant Park prizes will be called on-site at 7:30pm, so make sure you stick around until then. Winners must be present to claim their prize.

The winner of the airline tickets will be randomly chosen on Monday, September 26 and notified by e-mail (valid e-mails only). The winner will have until September 30 at 12pm EST to claim the tickets. If the tickets are not claimed, a different winner will be randomly chosen, and so on, until the tickets are claimed.

Best of luck out there, cowpokes!

Bryant Park Square Dance
Friday, September 23
6pm - 9pm
Saturday, September 24
3pm - 9pm
The Lawn

Thursday, September 22, 2016

NYC Estuary A Welcome Stopover for Diverse Bird Life

Over the last few years, we have cultivated a relationship with the NYC Audubon, resulting in biweekly Birding Tours of the park during migration. We've been delighted as our Audubon Guide Gabriel Willowteaches us about the avian life of NYC, and helps us spot some of these magnificent creatures up close. Now Gabriel shares his experiences in the park.

Have you noticed a hint of fall in the air recently? The past few nights & mornings have been cool & brisk, although the official Autumnal Equinox isn't for a few days yet (it will fall on today, September 22), fall migration is well underway.

As I have discussed in past Bryant Park Blog posts, the park, like other green spaces in NYC, becomes a hotbed of bird activity during the spring & fall migration seasons. But what is it about the park's location, and our city's location, that makes this area so rich in bird life? Despite the frequent jokes I hear about how the only birds we must see on our urban bird walks are pigeons, NYC has an exceptionally high diversity of birds. The number of species seen in Bryant Park to date stands at 121 species!

New York City is unusual in that it is an archipelago of islands (plus one peninsula, The Bronx). We are located at the confluence of the Hudson River as it empties into NY Harbor, and the East River, which is really a tidal strait connecting NY Harbor to Long Island Sound. There are also a number of smaller rivers, creeks and streams (such as the Bronx River) emptying into these larger waterways.

This landscape, where fresh water & salt water mix & meet the land, is called an estuary. Acre-for-acre, estuaries are the second-richest ecosystem on the planet, following tropical rainforests. Estuaries range from mud flats to salt marshes to mangrove swamps. They are where many species of fish spawn, due to more protected, shallower waters with lots of nutrients and fewer large predators. However there are still many predators: the abundant little fish attract many larger fish, which in turn attract many bird species, such as gulls, herons, egrets, osprey, and more.

Now, what does all this have to do with Bryant Park, you might well ask? Well, it's easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of midtown that in NYC we're never far from the coast, and always part of a larger estuary ecosystem. We had a reminder of this fact on a recent Bryant Park walk, when a Herring Gull (the classic "seagull", although that's a bit of a misnomer, as it is generally found along the coast, and not out to sea) went winging by down 42nd Street. Gulls can turn up anywhere in the city!

Also, many landbird species, such as warblers, sparrows, and swallows follow the coastline during migration. This could be because of more favorable steady winds, or because it forms a highway-like landmark for them to follow (southward, in this case).

Birders seek avian sightings. 

As it happens, NYC is located at a major turn in the road: the coastline bends from a primarily east-west orientation (from the coastal Maritime Provinces of Canada down through New England to Long Island) to a primarily north-south orientation (from NYC all the way to the tip of Florida). This makes our region a natural stopping point as birds shift direction: they are funneled into NYC as they make their way south-west down the New England coast and along Long Island.

Historically, this would have been an exceptionally rich area with a diverse range of habitats: coastal dunes, salt marshes, and mud flats; sandy oak-pine forests interspersed with grassy prairies on Long Island and along the immediate coasts; and hardwood oak/chestnut/maple forests in the upland areas atop the Palisades or in the hillier reaches of Manhattan. Things have changed over the years: the American Chestnut is nearly extinct, largely wiped out a century ago by chestnut blight, and most of our area's forests have been cut and our marshes filled or drained. It is a testament to the richness of this estuary ecosystem that we still have over 350 species of birds recorded in Brooklyn alone, and over 200 species of fish in the Hudson River. This in spite of centuries of radical habitat alteration, pollution, and the construction of a canyon-like habitat of glassy skyscrapers (which pose a major obstacle and threat to migrating birds), every fall NYC still fills with birds from points north, heading to warmer regions to the south.

With this bigger picture in mind, I hope you will join me in Bryant Park on a Monday morning at 8am or Thursday evening at 5pm to see what bird species have shown up in this little urban oasis.

Fall Birding Tours
September 12 - October 17
Mondays, 8am-9am
Thursdays, 5pm-6pm

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Our Fifth Annual Square Dance: A Midtown Hoedown

Four years ago we set out to create a new fall tradition here at Bryant Park by introducing Square Dancing to our line-up of events. Little did we know that our little Midtown hoedown would grow from an intimate affair on the Fountain Terrace to an all-encompassing country festival with a cult-like following. We're excited to announce that our Fifth Annual Square Dance will be held September 23rd and 24th.

Friday, Sept 23: 6pm - 9pm
Saturday, Sept 24: 3pm - 9pm

In the past we've spread out our Square Dance over three days, with two evening dances on Friday and Saturday and a kid friendly event during the afternoon on Sunday. This year we're changing it up by moving to a two-day schedule but extending our Saturday programming. That's the same number of barn-stomping hours, but now with a family-friendly Saturday afternoon ramping up into an evening party.

Do-si-do into the night with live-music and a real Barn Dance caller. Photo: Angelito Jusay Photography.
As always, we'll have our signature dancing with featured called Dave Harvey of NYC Barn Dance returning this year to teach some steps alongside the boot-stomping stylings of the Calamity Janes on Friday night and the Backyard Boys and The Remedies on Saturday. Square dance sets on Saturday will begin around 3:30pm and 6:30pm, with live folk and bluegrass music in between.

So you've learned to spin rope, but can you catch a calf? Find out with our new 'Roping Roper.' Photo: Angelito Jusay Photography.
Due to overwhelming popularity, we're expanding our roping offerings again. In addition to on-site trick roping instruction we’ll also teach guests how to lasso an object and then give you a chance to test out your skills with our Rodeo Roper, featuring a mechanical calf on a track which you'll need to rope from a distance. Are you up for the challenge?
If you find yourself drained from dancing, we've got plenty of bites from Hester Street Fair to help you refuel. Photo: Angelito Jusay Photography

Come with an appetite, because we've got finger-licking fixings from the Hester Street Fair, and beer and wine by Ark Restaurants, both available for purchase on-site. New this year will be our Bryant Park Farmers Market with local produce, organic goods, fresh-cut flowers, and more from BensidounAfter you’ve had your fill, head on over to the Southwest Airlines Lounge, complete with Adirondack chairs, to hang your hat and rest your feet.

From 3pm – 6pm on Saturday, little cowboys and cowgirls will want to mosey on over to the northwest corner of the lawn for Kids Corner. We’ll have western-themed crafts and sack races. Additionally, square dance instruction during this time will be at its kid-friendliest, featuring dances that are fun and do-si-doable by the whole family.

All weekend, we'll have western-themed giveaways by the wagon-load. You can also ham it up at our #bpsquaredance photo opps, challenge your friends to a game of cornhole, and enter the raffle for our grand prize - two round-trip airline tickets, courtesy of Southwest Airlines! We'll also have a few surprises revealed the day-of, so keep an eye out.

Country festive attire is encouraged. Be there and be square!

Bryant Park Square Dance
September 23, 6 - 9pm
September 24, 3 - 9pm
The Lawn

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fall 2016 Birding Tour List of Sightings

Bryant Park's Birding Tours take place during Spring and Fall migrations, when dozens of species use the park as a pit stop on their seasonal journeys. Over the years, 120 unique species of bird have been spotted in Bryant Park. This list will be updated with each tour's list of sightings.

Monday, September 12
Rock pigeon, House sparrow, Gray catbird, Common yellowthroat, Herring gull, Waterthrush, Song sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Ovenbird

Thursday, September 15
Gray catbird, Rock pigeon, Common yellowthroat, House sparrow, Ovenbird, European starling

Monday, September 19
Rock pigeon, European starling, House sparrow, Common yellowthroat, Song sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Ovenbird

Thursday, September 22
Rock Pigeon, Gray Catbird, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Northern Parula, House Sparrow

Monday, September 26
Blackpoll warbler, Dark-eyed junco, Common yellowthroat, Eastern phoebe, Ovenbird, Ruby-crowned kinglet, Gray catbird, Lincoln sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Song sparrow, Swamp sparrow, House sparrow, European starling, Rock pigeon

Thursday, September 29
Rock pigeon, House sparrow, Gray catbird, White-throated sparrow, Common yellowthroat, Ovenbird, American redstart, Gray cheeked thrush, Swainson's thrush, Brown thrasher, Palm warbler

Monday, October 3
Swamp sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Gray catbird, Common yellowthroat, Palm warbler, American redstart, Brown thrasher, Rock pigeon, House sparrow, European starling

Thursday, October 6
European starling, Common yellowthroat, Hermit thrush, Rock pigeon, Swainson’s thrush, Song sparrow, Swamp sparrow, Eastern towhee, Gray catbird, White-throated sparrow, Ovenbird, Ruby-crowned kinglet, Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Black-throated-blue warbler, American redstart, House sparrow

Monday, October 10
Rock Pigeon, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, American Kestrel, Blue Jay, House Wren, Ruby-crowned kinglet, Swainson's Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, White-crowned sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, House Sparrow

Thursday, October 14
Song sparrow, Eastern towhee, House sparrow, Gray catbird, Wood thrush, Ovenbird, White-throated sparrow, Common yellowthroat, Ruby-crowned kinglet, Hermit thrush, Rock pigeon, Swamp sparrow

Monday, October 17
Rock pigeon, House sparrow, Gray catbird, White-throated sparrow, Ovenbird, Hermit thrush, Swamp sparrow, Song sparrow, Wood thrush, European starling, Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Look up! 
Fall Birding Tours
September 12 - October 17
Mondays, 8am-9am
Thursdays, 5pm-6pm

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Special Boot Camp Visit Kicks Things Into High Gear

Wednesday morning's Boot Camp with The Rise NYC is a surefire way to start your day off with plenty of sweat, but even more high-fives and new friends.

Last Wednesday, cadets and staff from West Point joined the workout, further expanding the circle of friends. The workout was the Rise's best-attended yet, with 106 participants. The West Point crew led part of the workout, and presented the group with a certificate of appreciation at the end.

The certificate reads, in part:
"For leading an extraordinary physical training for members of West Point's annual Strategic Planning Symposium. The robust workout allowed members of all levels of fitness to push themselves towards physical improvement."

Now the question is, which group regularly works out harder: the cadets or the Rise? You can find out yourself by joining one of the Rise's workouts every Wednesday at 6:30am.

...and other bodyweight exercises got the blood pumping.
Running intervals were interspersed in between calisthenic exercises.
The superintendent of West Point presented the boot camp with a Certificate of Appreciation.
After class, everyone posed for a sweaty and satisfied group photo.

Wednesdays, 6:30am
Fountain Terrace