13 November 2009

Bryant Park, The Whore of New York Parks


Just an idle question: Exactly how many days out of the year is Bryant Park actually a park?

Everytime I walk by this onetime midtown oasis, it's cluttered with some kind of commercial, recreational or promotional shit. If it's not set up for summer films then it's consumed by a Jazz Festival, or it's taken over for Fashion Week (which, to my mind, seems to come around every couple months). Now it's completely carpeted with the booths of a Holiday Fair, as well as the annual skating rink.

Some people like these things, I know. But, excuse my simplicity—I think a park is most beautiful when it is just a park. I remember when the renovated Bryant Park was unveiled. It was wonderful. And for the first couple years you could go there most any day, grab a green chair or a patch of grass and sit and enjoy the spaciousness and the view, knowing you had escaped from the City, while still being within the City, for a few minutes. The trees, the fountain, the paths, the statuary—they were all sublimely executed.

Now the Parks Department will take money from any Tom, Dick and Harry, giving them license to crap whatever event or display they wish on the greenery. The Holiday Shops are there from Nov. 6 to Jan. 3. The pond is there until Jan. 24. That's three months shot. Looks like Jan. 25 is the next day Bryant Park will be there for the use of The People. Mark it down on your calendars, folks! A rarity!


7 comments:

Kurt said...

Excellent, and I agree completely. The ice rink is nice, but each year the "sponsor" takes up more space, until last year the rink looked like it was inside a Citibank branch.

And summer before last there was a 3-story Wachovia Hollywood Squares display.

In the Bloomberg scheme of things, if you slump down exhausted on a park bench, seeking a little relief from the city, you just volunteered for a loud sales pitch.

emtreidy said...

Bryant Park isn't a city park; it's not run by the Parks Dept.

www.bryantpark.org

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Well, no wonder it's such a whore. The fact that it's run by the Bryant Park Corporation, a nonprofit private management group, doesn't change my assessment of the way its run.

Brutus the Barber Beefcake said...

Yep, I work across the street from Bryant Park, and it's a rare week when it's just a park. But then they keep crowding more and more skyscrapers around here, so even when it's in park-mode, you don't have a shot at a seat during lunch on a nice day. Due to being private, it's a wonderfully maintained park, but then it's one event after another . . . I even saw Hulk Hogan there selling something.

Up4travel said...

I'm sure I'm dating myself (watch those eyerolls now), but I remember back in the 1970's how afraid we were to even walk PAST Bryant Park. It was a HUGE drug-infested rats nest, full of crime. It was a dirty, scary place. In comes the Bryant Park Corporate -- and voila! At least it is usable now -- it wasn't back then.

It took the private co to clean things up -- the city neglected it for far too many years.

Ed said...

I have to admit that I've gotten pretty sick of the "do you want to remove advertising from the park? well you will get MUGGED if you do. In the 70s we had no advertising in the parks, and we got MUGGED every day by DRUG ADDICTS. Thank God Bloomberg put advertising in the parks and stopped that.

This pops up on every comment thread where someone makes the slightest criticism of the way things are now.

Seriously, I get it. Thirty years ago I couldn't use Bryant Park because it was too dangerous. Now I can't use it because it is either too crowded or closed for some special event.

I've been to other cities, and they somehow manage to maintain parks that are, well, parks, they function as an oasis where you can get away from the bustle of the city.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Sing it, Ed! My thoughts exactly!