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NYC - Midtown: Bryant Park and New York Public Library

At the western gateway to the Bryant Park is the pink granite Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain, designed by Charles Adams Platt and dedicated in 1912. This was the city's first public memorial dedicated to a woman. Lowell was a social worker and founder of the Charity Organization Society. Charles Adams Platt designed the fountain.


Bryant Park is 9.603 acres of public park bounded by Fifth Avenue, Sixth Avenue, 40th and 42nd Streets. The central building of the New York Public Library sits on the eastern end of the park.


While it was still a wilderness, New York's colonial governor Thomas Dongan designated this land as a public space in 1686. George Washington's troops crossed the area while retreating from the Battle of Long Island in 1776. Bryant Park was a potter's field from 1823 to 1840, when thousands of bodies were moved to Ward's Island.


The first park at this site opened in 1847 as Reservoir Square, named after its neighbor, the Croton Distributing Reservoir. In 1853, the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations with the New York Crystal Palace, with thousands of exhibitors, took place in the park. The square was used for military drills during the American Civil War, and was the site of some of the New York Draft Riots of July 1863, when the Colored Orphan Asylum at Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street was burned down.


In 1884 Reservoir Square was renamed Bryant Park, to honor the New York Evening Post editor and abolitionist William Cullen Bryant and in 1899 construction of the New York Public Library building began. The construction of the Sixth Avenue Elevated railway in 1878 had cast a literal and metaphorical shadow over the park, and by the 1930s the park had fallen into disrepair. The park was re-designed in 1933-1934 as a Great Depression public works project under Robert Moses, featuring a great lawn, hedges and later an iron fence.


By the 1970s Bryant Park had been taken over by drug dealers, prostitutes and the homeless, earning the colloquial nickname "Needle Park." From 1979 to 1983, the parks advocacy group, The Parks Council, coordinated a large-scale improvement initiative. Their efforts were ultimately succeeded by the Bryant Park Corporation, founded in 1980, with a privately funded redesign and restoration in 1988 under the leadership of Daniel A. Biederman. The new Park opened in 1992 with a Parisian feel, an English style perennial border garden, and seating for up to 3,000. Several dining spots including Bryant Park Grill, Bryant Park Cafe and 'wichcraft opened to accomodate swelling lunchtime crowds. In the summer of 2002, the Bryant Park Wireless network was launched, allowing free WiFi access. In 2002, the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation founded Fetes de Noel, a European-style holiday market, and added The Pond at Bryant Park, a temporary ice skating rink, in 2005. Today the park hosts the biannual New York Fashion Week, HBO's Bryant Park Summer Film Festival and ABC's Good Morning America Concert Series, and the New York Yankees "Pinstripes in the Park" among many other events.


In 2007, the New York Public Library was ranked #47 on the AIA 150 America's Favorite Architecture list.


New York Pulic Library National Register #66000546 (1966)

New York Public Library and Bryant Park National Register #66000547

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Taken on April 28, 2003