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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Community spaces in New York

New York has the most amazing public parks and integrated street furnture I have seen anywhere, and I am not simply referring to Central Park.

Public seating adjacent to the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan island was inspirational. Take a look at these beauties:

A most brilliant use of metal and timber! Much better than our run-of-the-mill boring park benches any day.

The High Line on Manhattan's West Side is incredible. You can experience nature strolling amongst high-rise buildings, sitting on a bench that appears to defy gravity or a comfy rolling-lounge chair. Re-built in 2009 from the site of an elevated disused rail structure, it now attracts millions of visitors (locals and tourists). It was my all-time favourite New York experience. 

The story of the two co-founders of Friends of the High Line, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, is a remarkable and encouraging story. The Friends Group maintains the High Line and provides more than 90% of the annual operating budget. Their self-titled book the High Line should be read by anyone who cares about green and urban life:

Our local park in New York, Bryant Park, is a great case study for integrating active and passive park experiences. Like the High Line, it too is managed by private citizens for use by the community.

Adjacent to the New York Public Library, Bryant Park contains a restaurant, several food kiosks and an outdoor bar. It also has areas for playing chess and table tennis, a small stage for bands, a large film screen for Monday night cinema showings and fold-out chairs you could move around at whim. Simply magical:

One more New York posting to come. And please don't forget, we are open this Sunday 2 September, Father's Day, from 10am.

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