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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bleecker Playground

One of the various factors making visiting every New York City park a Herculean task, aside from the sheer quantity, is inconsistent nomenclature. Athletic fields and playgrounds in themselves don't count as parks for this blog. But some "playgrounds" aren't just playgrounds.

Next to Bleecker Playground in the West Village, for example, and completely fenced off from the kids' play area, is a spacious, nicely landscaped seating area. Granted there were no children playing in the playground when I walked through the other day, but it felt like a peaceful oasis. So here it is (trumpets, please): the Bleecker Playground seating area.

But what, you ask, is that dancingly expressive statue in the first photo above? The Parks Department website is happy to oblige with the answer: it's Chaim Gross's The Family, "dedicated by the artist to former Mayor Edward I. Koch in 1992," the year after Gross died. I don't know why they had to rename the Queenboro/59th St. Bridge after Koch when he already had this nifty sculpture (and the bridge already had two perfectly good names). And who actually did the dedicating?

Another good question: Why is one section of this park paved in wooden boards? In any case, since my next post will take us to Coney Island, it makes a good transition. The sunlike image in the window is, I think, a display at the James Perse store, but I didn't want to get too close and burn my eyes (or melt my wings).

Finally, while I suppose none of us really needs to see yet another picture of a chess table, I like these solid-looking pieces of old furniture, and the presence of one does prove – to me at least – that this is indeed a New York City park.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Elizabeth Street Garden

It may not be a park, but it was a big park-like surprise to me when we happened past the Elizabeth Street Garden yesterday on the way back from a walk to the Bowery lighting district. It's not as if I'd never walked on Elizabeth Street before. It's just that I never knew this place existed.

It's associated with the Elizabeth Street Gallery next door, but it isn't clear to me exactly how. Community members are petitioning to prevent development of the site, which is presently full of haphazardly-positioned old sculptures and historic curios, with housing.

A woman and a little girl examine petitions (petition is also online)

Benches and a few cafe-style tables and chairs, where you can sit and while away some time on a nice day, give this garden the aura of a public space.

The collection inside is unlike anything you'll find at other antique stores or galleries in the area. The website doesn't list prices but they're posted in the store, and for many of these things they're well into the five figures. Inside, the giant wooden French gaming table and the pig feeder caught my eye especially. But there are interesting objects in the garden too.

I especially like this cast iron statue of a woman reclining atop a panther, gazing out at the sidewalks of Elizabeth Street. Just like real life!

Anyway, with development plans afoot, sooner might be a better time than later to visit the Elizabeth Street Gallery and Garden. Just sayin'.