- A state in the northeastern US, on the Canadian border and Lake Ontario in the northwest, as well as on the Atlantic coast in the southeast; pop. 18,976,457; capital, Albany; statehood, July 26, 1788 (11). Originally settled by the Dutch, it was surrendered to the British in 1664. New York was one of the original thirteen states
- a Mid-Atlantic state; one of the original 13 colonies
- A major city and port in southeastern New York, situated on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Hudson River; pop. 7,322,564. It is situated mainly on islands, linked by bridges, and consists of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Manhattan is the economic and cultural heart of the city, containing the stock exchange on Wall Street and the headquarters of the United Nations
- one of the British colonies that formed the United States
- the largest city in New York State and in the United States; located in southeastern New York at the mouth of the Hudson river; a major financial and cultural center
Bryant Park is a prime example of the small axial park with a central green and peripheral walks, designed in the French classical tradition. Strategically located, just west of the New York Public Library, it is used by the many people who live and work in midtown Manhattan. In addition, the park also creates a harmonious environment and complementary setting for the library building.
The present landscape design dates from 1934, but the park site has had an illustrious and sometimes controversial history. George Washington and his troops defended themselves against the British on the site during the Revolutionary War. During the 1820s the City used the land as a potters' field.
The vast Croton Reservoir was built in 1842 on the land new
occupied by the Hew York Public Library. In 1846,the Common Council ordered the ground adjoining the reservoir to be "graded, sloped and sodded on the sides bordering upon the avenue and streets, and that the sane be enclosed by a neat ornamental wooden fence..., the same to be used as a public park, until required for reservoir or other purposes." The park idea apparently never cane to fruition, for in 1853, when the Crystal Palace was under construction there, the site i-as described as consisting of "vacant lots, strewn Kith rocks, deep pits and relics of shanties."
The Crystal Palace,used for an international exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, was perhaps the Most famous occupant, of the site until it burned to the ground in 1858. The Civil War found the site being used for drilling and tenting Union troops.
On May 12, 1884, the name of the site was officially changed from Reservoir Square to Bryant Park, in honor of William Cull en Bryant (1794-1873), poet, editor and orator.
Late in the 1890s the Croton Reservoir Mas removed to enable the New York Public Library to be built on the site. The architects of the library, Carrere & Hastings, carefully planned certain architectural elements that would harmonize the building with the park: the raised terrace at the east end of the park, the stone kiosks, and the handsome archway enclosing the statue of Bryant which was presented to the City by the Century Association in 1911, the same year the library was opened; the Lowell Memorial fountain was erected the following year.
By the late 1920s the park was sadly neglected, and even further disrupted by the subway construction on Sixth Avenue. A copy of Federal Hall, built in the spring of 1932 and raxed the following year, did not help the general state of the park.
Various city groups began to call for the renovation of Bryant Park during this period. In 1928, the Fifth Avenue Association presented a new
plan for landscaping the park to the Board of Estimate. Although the plan was not approved, it is interesting to note that it called for a large, depressed central lawn area--very similar to the present landscape scheme.
Finally in 1933 the Architects' Emergency Committee held a competition for a new
Bryant Park design open to all unemployed architects and draftsman registered with the committee. The winning design by Lusby Simpson of Queens was carried out by CWA workers under the supervision of the Parks Department in 1934.
Bryant Park was officially rededicated on September 15, 1934. Dr. John H. Finley, chairman of the ceremonies, compared the new Parks Commissioner Robert Moses to his biblical namesake, "who smote a rock to give his followers water in the desert. Commissioner Moses...smote the rocks of Manhattan Island and brought forth trees, grass, flowers and pools of water."
Moses stated: "We are glad to be finished with this particular housekeeping job." The high point of the ceremony was the dedication of the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain by her sister, Prances C. Barlow, and by Elizabeth hove Godwin, a great-granddaughter of William Cullen Rryant.
The plan of the park is a straightforward and symmetrical design. Haiscd above street level, it is enclosed by a granite retaining wall craned by balustrades at the raised terrace area and by cast- and wrought-iron railings. The height of the wall varies in accordance with the slope of the site.
The focal point of the park is the depressed central lawn area which is enclosed by balustraded railings. The cast-west axis of the park is emphasized by four flagstone-walks, two on each side of the lawn, sheltered by four rows of plane trees. The walks, which are separated by beds of ivy, arc bordered by handsome benches.
The central vista of the park is dominated at the western end by the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial fountain. Presented to the City in 1912, it honors the memory of Mrs. Shaw (1843-1905), a pioneer social worker and philanthropist. Designed by architect Charles A. Piatt, the fountain is constructed of pink Stoney Creek granite. A shallow contoured basin rests on a handsome sculptured base set in a large pool.
The raised terrace at the