Rosemary O’Brien is the author of the newly published book, Best Pocket Parks of NYC. Rosemary shares with Untapped Cities favorite park gems in three neighborhoods of Manhattan: Upper West Side, Midtown, and the Financial District. 

It all began in late 1964 when a group called The Park Association of New York City organized to support the formation of public green spaces or ‘vest pocket’ parks from small, unused, overgrown lots in New York City. Thomas P.F. Hoving, former Mayor John Lindsay’s future Parks Commissioner, jumped on the bandwagon and the practice of POPS (privately owned public space) had begun.


1. Paley Park

Paley Park in Midtown

A backlit waterfall, lush ivy on the walls and a variety of comfortable seating options. What’s not to love? In fact, Paley Park (pictured above), located on 53rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues is listed as the Project for Public Space’s (PPS) list of the best parks in the world. William S. Paley, former Chairman of CBS, built this park and was involved in every aspect of its design. With 1800 gallons of water per minute cascading through its waterfall at the back of the space, you will find yourself transported to a place filled with peace thanks to the white noise of the waterfall that successfully drowns out the noise of the city beyond the entrance.

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6 thoughts on “13 of the Best Pocket Parks in NYC

  1. Yeah it’s a shame about 180 Maiden, was a great spot to enjoy their lunchtime live classical music on Tuesdays (Juilliard students performed I believe) and also to watch CNN on their big screen on my lunchbreak especially for special events like when Obama was inaugurated. They had a lot of space to go around too. Hopefully the renovations make it even better.

  2. 180 Maiden Lane’s atrium was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy and is still under renovation. You failed also to mention one of the most spectacular outdoor spaces downtown- The Elevated Acre at 55 Water St.

    1. Thanks, Petra. I took this photo last summer and wasn’t aware it was being renovated. As for Elevated Acre, I love it, too, but did not include it in this piece. It is, however, included in my book because it is incredible. I also love Grand Central Plaza at Third Ave. and 40th Street. It’s only two stories, but it is kind of hidden away. Very cool place to get coffee and hang out when the coffee kiosk is open.

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