“The Living Pyramid,” a 2015 project by New York City-based artist Agnes Denes. Image via Socrates Sculpture Park
While New York City’s museum culture is certainly enviable (we’ve got the MET and the American Museum of Natural History!), it’s generally difficult to view art in isolation. Most of the time, you’ll find yourself waiting in long lines to purchase tickets, only to shuffle from one room to the next with a horde of wide-eyed tourists.
Long Island City‘s Socrates Sculpture Park is one exception. Unsurprisingly, it’s named in honor of Socrates (469-399 B.C.), the great Greek philosopher known as the founding father of Western philosophy. The name, however, also acts as a nod to the people of Astoria, which hold’s New York City’s largest Greek community (reportedly the largest Hellenic city in the world aside from Athens). Today, the outdoor museum and park not only features multi-media installations and sculptures, but also offers a tucked-away spot to take in the killer view of the Manhattan skyline.
10. Socrates Sculpture Park Was Built on Top of Landfill
While Socrates Sculpture Park is covered in grass and trees today, it didn’t always have such an idyllic past. The site once served as a port for offloading stone and sand, but eventually transformed into a dumping area and landfill, where people discarded construction debris and other odd parts.
In 1985, local sculptor Mark di Suvero saw an opportunity to transform the blighted acres of land into a thriving work place for artists to produce work and present them in a public manner. That year, the restoration process to reclaim the land began, giving rise to what would become the largest outdoor space in New York City dedicated to exhibiting sculpture.