Tucked between two office buildings at 55 Water Street is a hard-to-find escalator which whisks you up to The Elevated Acre. Don’t be daunted though, this transformed public plaza well worth the hunt.
The Elevated Acre at 55 Water Street was actually completed in the early 1970s. After new zoning regulations for skyscrapers were passed in 1961, developers could add an additional six and a half stories to a building’s height if it included a public plaza on the property. So, while this outdoor space was always there, the current design was just completed in 2005 by Rogers Marvel Architects, designers of other public spaces including Bronx’s Mill Pond Park, Washington DC’s Constitution Gardens, and Jersey City’s Berry Lane Park. The firm won an international competition to transform this one acre from a barren deck to a vibrant public park which hosts numerous programs – outdoor movies, weddings, and dance performances as part of the River to River Festival. For most though, the Elevated Acre remains a favorite lunch spot for weekday commuters.
The Elevated Acre has a seven-tiered amphitheater surrounding the lawn, a Brazilian hardwood boardwalk which stands 30 feet above the East River, views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges as well as the Brooklyn waterfront. A tower, which can be illuminated by programmable LED lights, beacons visitors from the FDR Drive and from the harbor.
It is easy to find a bench or chair among the gardens to quietly read a book, reflect on your day, or people watch. Who would expect to find this little oasis of gardens, panoramic views, leisure and relaxation snug right in the middle of the Financial District?