Bryant Park and the New York Public Library

September 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

This is another favorite slice of the city.  It’s in between things  – just east of Times Square, just south of the serious shopping on 5th Avenue, just north of the Empire State Building – and, therefore, easy to overlook.

But you shouldn’t.

There are two great sights seated in one large, stunning city block.   Occupying 40th to 42nd Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues, and surrounded by a bevy of noteworthy architectual masterpieces, like the American Radiator Building (now, the Bryant Park Hotel) constructed of dark brick and topped with gold, and 500 5th Avenue (at the northwest corner of 5th and 42nd), an Art Deco skyscraper designed in 1930, the New York Public Library and Bryant Park are certainly worth a visit.

New York Public Library (“Main Branch”)

First, the Midtown location of the New York Public Library (5th Avenue and 42nd Street).  Did you see Sex and the City: The Movie?  Do you remember Carrie running down the curved stone staircase after Big said he wasn’t sure he could marry her?  That is the library.  Flanked by a pair of imposing carved lions, the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece.  In a word, it is “grand.”  One needs only to take in the shape and vastness of the space, and the use of marble, to appreciate how visually stunning the building is.  And one needs only to climb one of the wide, marble staircases to the heart of the library, the Rose Main Reading Room, to wish there was some research to do.  Long, oak reading tables are lit by brass lamps.  A mural of the sky adorns the ceiling.  And everywhere … books and wood.  The scent of a library.

Bryant Park

Now the park, which has a rich history data back to 1686, and today is a central part of Manhattan life.  There are so many things about Bryant ParkWiFi “Hot Spot” that make it unique and unmissable.  Yes, this is the park where “Good Morning America” holds its summer concert series.  And, yes, this is where the designers and stars congregate have congregated twice each year under the “tent” for Fashion Week.  But it’s also the spot where Monday nights in June, July, and August there is an outdoor movie under the stars (the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival), and weather permitting, year-round you will find the Reading Room which offers a wide variety of books, periodicals, and newspapers, and runs a children’s reading program.   And where the Holiday  Season translates into an outdoor skating rink and a holiday shopping bazaar.  Bryant Park is even a – yes, if you go to the park with your laptop, the Internet is free.  And there is that vast, green lawn …  inviting outdoor space prized by any good New Yorker.

If you want to do like the natives do, time your visit so that you can buy lunch at Zeytinz Fine Food Marketplace on 40th Street.  It doesn’t matter what you are in the mood for, they have it (burritos, salads, sandwiches, sushi, pizza).  Or if you know you want a salad, try Pax around the corner on 6th Avenue.  Food in hand, cross 40th Street and into the park,  grab a table (if you’re lucky) or a stair or piece of grass on that vast green lawn, and enjoy the fine weather.  Or, if more refined dining suits your taste,  make a lunch or dinner reservation at the Bryant Park Grill.  It is located directly behind the library near 40th Street.  There is an outdoor patio and rooftop for dining in the warmer months, and a fashionable dining room and indoor bar for the rest.   From mid-April to November the Grill also runs the Bryant Park Cafe, which offers casual-American fare on a fabulous outdoor patio.  It is also a great spot for after-work drinks. Reservations are not required.

And, other than your food and drink, it’s all free!

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