The Financial District is not all concrete canyons and gleaming skyscrapers. Even without the inclusion of the Battery Park City’s myriad green spaces, the neighborhood has a surprising wealth of parks. Once you include the parks of Battery Park City, however, the area is a treasure trove of playgrounds, plazas, gardens, and other outdoor areas, making it one of the most verdant neighborhoods of Manhattan. Below are just a few highlights.
Between Battery Place, State Street, and Whitehall Street
Located on Manhattan’s southern tip, the Battery is one of the city’s oldest public parks, though when it was settled by the Dutch in 1624 the stretch of land facing where the Hudson and East Rivers meet was fortified with a battery of cannons to defend the community. Those settlers wouldn’t recognize the Battery, also known as Battery Park, today. Among the delights of the 25-acre park is SeaGlass, an aquatic-themed carousel in which riders sit in shimmering fish rather than on the typical prancing horses. The Bosque Gardens make up 4 acres of the park, with 34,000 perennial plants, a 60-foot-wide spiral fountain encompassing 35 jets of water, and a bikeway. The Battery Urban Farm, tended by students and volunteers, grows produce that is donated to school cafeterias and Drive Change, which provides employment and education to young adults released from prison. There is one aspect of the park that might look familiar to some time travelers from the past: Castle Clinton National Monument. Built as a fort in 1812, it was subsequently used as an opera house, an immigrant-processing center, and the New York City Aquarium. Today it houses the ticket office for the Statue of Liberty, which you can see while lounging on a bench along the Battery Promenade.
The SeaGlass carousel at the Battery.
[Image: Allison Meier/Wikimedia]
Broadway and Whitehall Street
When it was built in 1733, this park included turf for playing lawn bowls—hence its name. The oldest park in the city, today it is home to a large fountain, plenty of benches where local workers enjoy an alfresco lunch on sunny days, and Charging Bull, the bronze statue that has come to symbolize the Financial District. Since March 2017 it has also been the site of Fearless Girl, a bronze companion piece of sorts to Charging Bull.
Tulips around the Bowling Green fountain.
Between Broadway, Park Row, and Chambers Street
With its majestic fountain, broad walkways, lush landscaping, and plentiful benches, City Hall Park epitomizes a classic urban oasis. It also has the makings of an entertaining history lesson, thanks to its more than a dozen monuments. These include a 13-foot bronze statue of Colonial spy Nathan Hale, a bronze depiction of legendary editor Horace Greeley, and plaques honoring fellow journalist Joseph Pulitzer, pioneering physicist and chemist Marie Curie, and reformer Jane Addams.
Caption: The fountain at City Hall Park.
[Image: Global Jet/Flickr]
Battery Park City
Running the length of Battery Park City along the Hudson River and the New York Harbor, the 1.2-mile Esplanade makes the most of its sublime views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and New Jersey across the river. Old-style street lamps and plentiful benches line the broad pedestrian pathways; there are separate pathways for bicyclists, skateboarders, and skaters. The trees sprinkled among the lawns provide perfect shelter for shady summer picnics. Located on the Esplanade between First Place and Third Place, South Cove is a park within the park as much as it is a public artwork, encompassing boulders, plants, pilings, a curved jetty, and even an island.
Enjoying the view at the Esplanade.
[Image: Noah Sussman/Flickr]
West of River Terrace, between Murray Street and Warren Street
Rockefeller Park is not for kids only, but kids are certain to love it. The playground offers structures and activities for all ages, including a merry-go-round that kids propel by pedaling, a jungle gym with a webbing “roof” that serves as a trampoline, play fountains, sand pits for toddlers and for older kids, and a toddler maze. The park also features basketball and handball courts along with ping-pong and billiard tables. When you need a break from the activity, you can linger by the lily pond, laze on the lawns, or sit on one of the benches that face the Hudson River.
Sculptures and benches in Rockefeller Park.
[Image: GK tramrunner229/Wikimedia]
Between Warren Street, River Terrace, Murray Street, and North End Avenue
Located across from Rockefeller Park, Teardrop Park was designed in large part to enable city kids to interact with nature. There are rocks to climb, hills to run down, fountains to play in, and numerous nooks and niches to explore. The manicured lawns, varied plants, and meandering walkways ensure that adults will enjoy the space as well.
Fountain fun at Teardrop Park.