KPA Presents Street Evolution: Bryant Park

Street Evolution: Bryant Park

Whether you choose to sunbathe on the lawn during lunch hours or scoop up one – of – a- kind trinkets from vendors during Holiday time, Bryant Park is the place for you.  Described as a “mini oasis in midtown “…amid New York City’s traffic and skyscrapers, you can find this little park filled with fun things to do.  Bryant Park is a privately funded park that creates a rich outdoor experience for visitors.”

The History of Bryant Park

Bryant Park’s development dates as far back as the 1600s.  The name was eventually changed to Croton Reservoir then again to Reservoir Park once the area was designated as public property.  The manmade lake was a sight to be held, it was “…a water supply system known for being a huge engineering progression and was surrounded by fifty-foot granite walls.  It used iron pipes to transport water to the receiving reservoir which was in Central Park.  “This space also doubled as an encampment for Union army soldiers during the Civil War.”

In 1884 Reservoir Park was crowned Bryant Park after the journalist, William Cullen Bryant.  To redevelop the area, The Architects Emergency Committee created a contest that called for renovations of the park.  The reservoir was demolished and replaced with the quaint design by Queens native and Architect, Lusby Simpson in 1934. 

Bryant Park
Crouton Reservoir


Midtown’s Place For Work and Play

Towards the latter half of the twentieth century, Bryant Park fell into disarray.  The park was primarily isolated from the urban environment of the city.  Surrounded by high stone walls and large foliage the opportunity for unsavory activity increased dramatically.  Toward the 1970s into the 1980’s many people called for the rehabilitation of the park.  The Bryant Park Restoration Corporation was created to give the park a makeover and create a safe space for public congregation and leisure activities.


The Bryant Park Restoration Corporation was extremely successful in many facets.  “First, the need for a breathing space in midtown-Manhattan was widely acknowledged; second, business and building owners in the area made it clear that they believed a thriving park was essential for the success of the entire neighborhood; and third, the changes that strong leadership could bring to bear on a seemingly forlorn cause was made apparent.”


Food, Fashion, and Fun

Today, Bryant Park is the epicenter midtown entertainment.  Once the days get warmer, the lawn opens up for the work crowd to lunch with friends and sunbathe to their heart’s desire.  Bryant Park is the place to relax, catch an outdoor movie date or to play a game of ping pong or croquet with fellow park enthusiasts.  The autumn and the winter attracts tons of tourists for fashion week, holiday shopping, and night time skating in the private skating rink.  As we get closer to the holidays, keep an eye out for Bryant Park’s famous Holiday shops.  Over 175 boutiques will be set up in one of New York’s most famous parks.  Check out the link below!

Look out every week for our Street Evolution series! KPA profiles well-known landmarks and streets within New York City.

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