51st between Second and Third Aves.
New York, NY
Contributed by Project for Public Spaces
One of New York City's famed "vest pocket-parks," providing an emerald-green sanctuary for east-side residents and workers.
Like its sister vest-pocket park, Paley Park, Greenacre Park has the basic ingredients of a good public space:
1. It is located directly on the street so that people are attracted to look and to go in.
2. There is good, reasonably priced food.
3. There are movable chairs and tables so people can be comfortable and can have some control over where they sit.
4. A waterfall provides a focal point and a dramatic reason to visit the park and its noise creates a sense of quiet and privacy.
5. There is shade in the summer from the trees yet their thin structure allows a beautiful dappled light to pass through.
6. Overhead heat lamps on the upper level heat the park in cool weather.
GreenAcre Park functions as a living room for the community and the "regulars: who use it make a significant contribution to the safety of the park.
History & Background
With a 25-foot-high waterfall cascading over the rear wall, skillfully landscaped trees and plantings, an outdoor cafe, and shady arbors, the park was designed to make the most of its small size. Built in 1971 by the Greenacre Foundation, (founded two years earlier by Mrs. Jean Mauze, the former Abby Rockefeller) the park was developed to provide New Yorkers with "some moments of serenity in this busy world." The park's award-winning designs were created by Hideo Sasaki, former chairman of Harvard's Landscape Architecture Department, and Harmon Goldstone, who served as consultant. Greenacre park is heavily used, but not enough to make it feel busy.
The Greenacre Foundation, which owns and masterfully maintains the park, also operates a reference center at 457 Madison Avenue (51st Street) in conjunction with The Municipal Arts Society.
Greenacre Foundation, 30 Rockefeller Plaza #5600, New York, NY, 212-649-5691
- The World's Best and Worst Parks - Greenacre Park is on PPS's list of the best parks in the world