GREENincling in New York
James recently visited New York and had the following thoughts about the city :
It's true what people say – everything is bigger and better in the big apple – and that certainly goes for the parks and urban spaces.
In the excitement of arriving, I walked more than 20km on my first day, starting out at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a pedestrian walkway built in the 1950s and cantilevered over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, where I had my first real view of Lower Manhattan. Below me, the newly constructed Brooklyn Bridge Park stretched along the East River, revitalizing Brooklyn’s post-industrial waterfront. The weather was in my favour around 85°F / 30°C and since it was Memorial Day weekend, most of New York seemed to be outdoors taking full advantage of the sun.
It seemed that no matter where I was in New York City, a park was never far away. From Central Park to Paley Park, the difference in scale and typologies of the urban spaces was just fantastic. When asked about the highlights of the trip, two places always stand out: Josie Roberston Plaza at the Lincoln Center (where I was lucky enough to see the New York City Ballet), and Bryant Park. It seems apt that these both fall within the landscape architect’s domain and are generous urban spaces, providing relief from the city surrounding them.
Every public park, pocket park, square, plaza, roof top and courtyard in New York was packed with people – it was amazing – and something I’m not used to seeing in South Africa. In contrast to our estranged relationship with public open space, New Yorkers consider parks and plazas as valuable spaces for civic life, and they employ landscape architects to help express this public realm.