When you think of New York City, you probably think of Central Park. It’s a staple of the city and tourists flock there to have a traditional New York experience. And though Central Park is certainly worth your time, there is another park equally deserving of your attention. A park where the true spirit of New York shines through in a much smaller, intimate space. A space that encompasses all that is lovely about this vibrant city. This hidden gem is Bryant Park.
It’s hard to capture in words exactly what the simple little magic of this place is. There is an energy here and it’s a positive one. One of the greatest things about New York City is that it is the whole wide world in one place. Every country, every language, is represented. And when you walk through Bryant Park, you feel that. A cacophony of accents creates a constant hum, and tied with the sound of live music playing in the distance, it is a lovely song. image
As you walk around the perimeter of the park, the true beauty of the place is not only seen, but heard and felt. There is a magic here. You walk by the reading room, a collection of bistro tables surrounded by carts of books, books available for anyone to read. You take in the lovely site of people young and old enjoying the peaceful pursuit of reading. In the distance, you see a local author leading a writing group and reading aloud to them from a short story, stopping to highlight particularly powerful lines. A poetry reading is about to begin in another corner of the park. Anxious authors edit their lines and await their turn on the stage. image
You walk on, by lovers holding hands. You notice nervous but excited on-line-daters looking for the face to match the profile. You watch little children run across the lawn, heading for the carousel. As they run, you see yoga mats being brought out into the center of the park, one after another. And you know, shortly, there will be hundreds of people breathing in and breathing out, in unison and in peace, under the shadow of skyscrapers. And you will feel that peace. It will be palpable. image
You walk by tables filled with people playing chess. You notice a young black man and an elderly Asian man in rapt concentration as they move the pieces and you wonder, where else in the world would you see this? You see an area off to the side welcoming anyone who might want to learn chess or backgammon or mah jonng to have a seat. And you see people of all ages and ethnicities learning together. image
You continue walking past the Pétanque court, a French game of bowls, and can smell the fresh aroma of warm Belgian waffles coming from the stand in the distance. You come upon a grouping of ping pong tables and see people of all ages, some just starting, some in fierce competition, coming together to shed their suit coats and heels in order to play. A group of spectators circles around them, trash talking, laughing and waiting for their turn at the table. Every person has a smile on their face.image
This is the special little magic of Bryant Park. A place of calm tucked into the chaos of the concrete jungle. A place that quietly shows us how beautiful this world could be if we would just let it.