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Laura Strecker checks out the view from Four (Credit: Yana Paskova)

Laura Strecker checks out the view from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. (July 7, 2013)

Pocket parks in NYC

It's easy to rhapsodize about Central Park and Prospect Park, as their size commands attention. But sometimes New York City's smaller green spaces can get overlooked. With more than 1,700 parks dotting the city limits, there are plenty of small and beautiful options to surprise you. --TED LOOS, Special to Newsday

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT FOUR FREEDOMS PARK, Roosevelt Island
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT FOUR FREEDOMS PARK, Roosevelt Island (fdrfourfreedomspark.org): Legendary architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) had just completed the drawings for this memorial when he died. It took almost 40 years to realize, but the memorial and the stunning small park that contains it were completed last fall. (July 7, 2013)

Located at the southern end of Roosevelt Island
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Located at the southern end of Roosevelt Island on a triangular, 4-acre site, the scenic Four Freedoms park features a sloping, tree-lined approach to the memorial -- surprisingly, the only one dedicated to FDR in his home state, and named for his famous "Four Freedoms" speech. The 1,050-pound bronze bust of the president, based on a sculpture by Jo Davidson, is well rendered, but the key feature is what architect Kahn called the Room. This open plaza is surrounded by huge, solemn granite slabs that were painstakingly cut and arranged. It's one of New York's most beautiful spaces, with a contemplative air that is rare, indeed. (July 7, 2013)

Grant Hodgon and Raphaela Hodgon walk around Four
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Grant Hodgon and Raphaela Hodgon walk around Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. (July 7, 2013)

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Laura Strecker checks out the view from Four
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Laura Strecker checks out the view from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. (July 7, 2013)

SEPTUAGESIMO UNO, 71st Street between West End and
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

SEPTUAGESIMO UNO, 71st Street between West End and Amsterdam avenues: Clocking in at just .04 acres, this micro-park is sandwiched between two brownstones, and the benches are a good way station for those traversing the Upper West Side. Former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern is responsible for changing the name from "71st Street Plot" to its grand-sounding Latin translation. (July 7, 2013)

The fence at the entrance of Septuagesimo Uno
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

The fence at the entrance of Septuagesimo Uno park in Manhattan. (July 7, 2013)

Septuagesimo Uno,
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Septuagesimo Uno, "71" in Latin, is a micro-park located on 71st Street between West End and Amsterdam avenues. (July 7, 2013)

Septuagesimo Uno park in Manhattan. (July 7, 2013)
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Septuagesimo Uno park in Manhattan. (July 7, 2013)

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CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE PARK, West 22nd Street and
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE PARK, West 22nd Street and 10th Avenue: The author of "A Visit From St. Nicholas," Moore (1779-1863) grew up on this parcel of land, and his family is responsible for naming the neighborhood Chelsea, after the London district. (There's another park named for the Clarkes in Queens, on the site of their 17th-century farm.) Today it is largely a well-maintained playground, shaded by big trees, perfect for families coming off the High Line at 20th or 23rd streets. (July 7, 2013)

Clement Clarke Moore Park, named for the author
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Clement Clarke Moore Park, named for the author of "A Visit From St. Nicholas," is largely a well-maintained playground, shaded by big trees, perfect for families coming off the High Line at 20th or 23rd streets. (July 7, 2013)

Boys play in Clement Clarke Moore Park, named
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Boys play in Clement Clarke Moore Park, named for author Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863), who grew up on this parcel of land. (July 7, 2013)

DUANE PARK, Hudson and Duane streets: This small,
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

DUANE PARK, Hudson and Duane streets: This small, green triangle in TriBeCa is the first piece of land acquired and set aside explicitly as a park in 1797. The area has since transformed from rough-and-tumble warehouses to chic shopping and dining. The neighborhood association that sponsored its 1999 restoration, Friends of Duane Park (duanepark.org), is particularly active. The dedications on the benches are a fun read. (July 7, 2013)

Duane Park, located at Hudson and Duane streets
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Duane Park, located at Hudson and Duane streets in Manhattan, was the first public space acquired by the city specifically for use as a public park in 1797. (July 7, 2013)

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Bryan Epps and Keith Antone chat in Duane
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Bryan Epps and Keith Antone chat in Duane Park, located at Hudson and Duane Streets in Manhattan. (July 7, 2013)

PALEY PARK, 3 E. 53rd St.: A waterfall
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

PALEY PARK, 3 E. 53rd St.: A waterfall in New York? Listen to the soothing, swooshing sound in this privately owned, ivy-lined parklet, on the site of the famed Stork Club. This was the first "vest-pocket" park in the 1960s, part of a movement to create respites in the midtown landscape. Down the street (next to the Burger Heaven) you can view a large, colorful portion of the Berlin Wall installed in 1990. (July 7, 2013)

Dorion Alexander, left, and Beatrice Talavera sit in
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Dorion Alexander, left, and Beatrice Talavera sit in Paley Park, the first "vest-pocket" park in the 1960s, part of a movement to create respites in the midtown landscape. (July 7, 2013)

Kris Shapiro takes photos of Victoria Nevryanskiy in
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Kris Shapiro takes photos of Victoria Nevryanskiy in Paley Park in Manhattan. (July 7, 2013)

Visitors can listen to the soothing, swooshing sounds
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

Visitors can listen to the soothing, swooshing sounds of water in Paley Park. (July 7, 2013)

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