As we've noted before, Battery Park City has its own parks, separate from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Among them is a hidden gem called Teardrop Park. This picturesque parcel of 1.8 acres is just steps from Rockefeller Park, a Battery Park City waterfront green space, where I've been many times. Yet I never knew about Teardrop Park until I spotted it on Google Maps recently.
Entering from the north, you're greeted by a row of imposing bluestone slabs that suggest King Kong just finished playing with a box of dominoes. It's part of geological artwork by Ann Hamilton meant to "evoke a sense of geologic flux and transition between present time (now) and past time (then)." I like her artist-speak explanation of "now" and "then" – it's so easy to forget which means the present and which the past.
Sarcasm aside, the park succeeds in creating an "unfolding landscape of discovery," as one of its designers told the New York Times when it opened in 2004. James F. Gill, chairman of the Battery Park City Authority, saw it as "a piece of the Hudson Valley in Battery Park City."
A blooming vista appears as you round the curved paths. In late April, the trees are in bloom, with pink on vivid display. (I'm guessing the pinks are eastern redbuds; if you know better, please leave a comment.)
An artistic stone wall, also Ann Hamilton's work, looms across the middle of the park. The Battery Park City Parks website describes it as an "ice wall."
A narrow passageway leads through to the south side –
– where a slide awaits, along with a sandpit and other attractions for the small set.
This little tyke might have been headed there. If I were her age, I sure would have been.
The park's designers at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates had children in mind, as well as sustainability, when they began construction of Teardrop Park in tandem with the surrounding apartment buildings in 1999. The firm's website declares:
As children are considered Teardrop’s most important users, the park is designed to address the urban child’s lack of natural experience, offering adventure and sanctuary while also engaging mind and body. Site topography, water features, natural stone, and lush plantings contribute to an exciting world of natural textures, dramatic changes in scale, and intricately choreographed views.
Teardrop, which cost $17 million to build, worked out well for Van Valkenburgh, winning an American Society of Landscape Architects award in 2009.
Van Valkenburgh was also involved in the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park (see our coverage here and here) and the Chelsea Cove section of Hudson River Park. Like those parks, Teardrop Park was created with funding from private sources. Unlike them, Teardrop's existence is entirely bound up in a private development. It shows, though, that a park needn't be city-run to be a boon to everyone in its neighborhood. Of course, few if any lower-income people could afford to live around Teardrop Park. But it's there for anyone to enjoy, and that's something.