I found that as we walked the streets, we encountered parks such as Bryant Park and Paley Park that followed the grid laid out by the city and others such as and Ken Smith Park and the Highline that followed its own design layout.
My series of photographs is a progression of our first day in New York City. The Ken Smith Waterfront Esplanade had a beautiful boardwalk layout under the FDR Highway. Sea walls were used for seating benches with wooden chairs bolted to them and for edges to raised garden beds. The unique LED lighting strips that reflected off the lavender paint of the FDR was an interesting design exploration.
We saw a Time Capsule garden that began as an art project and was not supposed to be touched but allowed to grow freely on its plot of land (but had clearly been groomed, designed and maintained more than originally intended). We then made our way over to the Highline, a relatively new park that celebrates the natural reclamation of a decommissioned raised train line in the Meat Packing District. The 7 acre thin stretch of land was a popular place for locals and tourists, really bringing life to the area. The work at Times Square will emphasize the closed road system.
Personally, I have been hoping to find Paley Park in the city since I heard about it last year. The experience was incredible! I love how the park extended across the roadway with plantings of Honey Locus and how the waterfall drowned out the sounds of the city. The high walls covered in English Ivy and cobblestone floor gave it a homey, personal feel. I felt the size was large enough to allow public access but it was small enough to provide a safe and relaxing retreat.
I was also greatly impressed with the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. Not pictured in extensively above (because my camera ran out of battery), the scenery change and the sequence of views was the most inspiring. The approach contained wild greenery and ruins from its history as Welfare Island and when you reach the memorial you turn a corner and are confronted with this massive white marble wall and stairs leading to the top. My jaw certainly dropped here at the incredible size and overwhelming pride in my American history; little did I know what waited at the top of the staircase. An expansive lawn, symmetrical down the center, with all lines (side walk and tree-line included) leading down in elevation and to a point where a giant sculpted FDR head rested. Beyond this was a white marble room overlooking the water. One last breathtaking change of view in a place that inspired reflection, patriotism, and awe.