Though the land that is now Bryant Park was set-aside in 1686 as a public space, it became designated as Bryant Park in 1884. The site was originally a potter’s field, or a cemetery for the poor. After being a cemetery, the site held a reservoir, which helped supply the city with water. The site was originally called Reservoir Square in honor of the reservoir. However, it was later destroyed when the park was chosen as a site for the New York Public Library in 1899 and Bryant Park was truly born. The new name was chosen as a way to honor William Cullen Bryant who was not only a popular poet but also a famous abolitionist. The library was built for free from the Tilden Trust and is still part ...view middle of the document...
However, the park is much more than just a beautiful spot of the city. By examining the history of park and its present day form, one can get a sense of the importance of open public urban spaces in cities and how such spaces can be successful.
Before the United States was created, the need for public parks was already apparent in Europe, especially in urban areas like London. This was carried over to the new world which can be seen by the area that is now Bryant Park being set aside as a part of New York City that belonged to the public as early as 1686. The public’s need for open spaces in the urban fabric would continue to become only more apparent as the country grew. Bryant Park can be seen as one of the first of such urban parks that are now common in cities across the United States.
Bryant Park today is very different from Bryant Park of the past. Now the park is a popular spot to go at all times of day and throughout the year. It is well used during the workday with office workers taking advantage of the food options and seating available. It is also very popular in the spring and summer when various events are put on such as film festivals and free musical performances. There is even an ice-skating rink put up every winter so New Yorkers can still enjoy the outdoors.
Bryant Park is also an interesting example of a recent innovation of public parks: privatization. The park was made into a privately owned public park during its second redesign. So far the privatization has helped the park by being able to properly fund its upkeep by attracting contributors and sponsoring events.
Bryant Park was originally designed in a Victorian style, with curving paths, dotting and clumping of trees and wooden benches set around the site. The distinguishable large lawn in the center of the park has been there since its creation in 1899.
The first redesign of Bryant Park took place in 1934 and was headed by Robert Moses as a Public Works Project in the Great Depression. The main aspects of the redesign was raising the park above street level, placing a wrought-iron fence and shrubs around the perimeter of the...