When you’re darting up the north side of East 51st Street, phone glued to ear, past the yellow mass of stalled cabs, you suddenly come upon an opening in the streetscape, an oasis if you will. You stop, stare, even smile. Got to go. But I’ll be back. And sure enough, when the days slow down a bit, you’re pulling up a chair and eating lunch to the sight and sound of an urban waterfall, your own mid-day oasis.
Greenacre Park is a private park, accessible to all, in the heart of Turtle Bay, a residential neighborhood that sits on the edge of the Midtown commercial district. The park opened in 1971 and in 2018 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This pocket park has a distinguished lineage. It was designed by the late Hideo Sasaki, a renowned landscape architect and long-time chairman of the Landscape Architecture Department at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The Greenacre Foundation, which owns and maintains the park, was founded by Abby Rockefeller Mauzé, the granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller Sr.
Greenacre Park is comprised of three different levels and is anchored by a spectacular 25-foot tall waterfall that cascades over a succession of massive granite blocks. While the movement of the water may get your immediate attention, the lush greenery and myriad of plantings within this open space offers a transcendent experience for any visitor to Midtown.
Sakaki designed the park in such a way that visitors could interact with different environments within the space. He effectively created multiple zones across tiers and depending on where one might sit, a visitor would experience the park’s elements differently.
If you are seeking a midday refuge, there are plenty of stone benches as well as the conventional table and chair. Tucked into the corner, away from sight is a delightful cafe that offers a hearty menu of breakfast and lunch options. But beware, on a warm summer day, the lunch crowd of suits and skirts spills out onto the front steps as the park bursts out onto East 51st Street.
Despite its modest footprint (60 feet wide x 120 feet deep) and intimate nature, Greenacre Park profoundly manages to maintain a sense of grandeur. Sitting in this glorious park at midday is truly a treasured experience and thus makes Greenacre Park one of our most beloved green spaces in all of New York. Click here to see sales in Turtle Bay near Greenacre Park.