Gardens at the Frick Collection

Imgae by Susan Ellingsburg/Creative Commons

The Frick Collection, located in Henry Clay Frick’s former gilded-age mansion, is a historical and cultural wonder in it of itself (not to mention home to world-class European art), but the gardens at The Frick Collection are equally enjoyable. Alongside the art and sculpture, visitors to the Frick Collection can experience both the Fifth Avenue garden as well as an internal, gated garden in the courtyard of the mansion.

Though the Fifth Avenue Garden is closed to the public, it serves both a practice and atmospherical purpose for The Frick Collection. The rose beds supply the fresh flowers in the galleries and the herbs grown there are used to season the food. Then as the Frick Collection states, “Set back from the sidewalk, behind the tall fence guarded by mythic iron griffins, the raised garden is presented like the stage of a theater, separating it from the busy world. Likewise, viewing the garden from the windows of the Fragonard Room or the Living Hall visually integrates the art and gardens in a way no other museum in the city can.”  The exception to the garden’s public closure is The Frick Collection’ s annual Garden Party– a fundraiser and one of many perks to Frick Fellows (fellow status obtained starting at $1,500).

The even more tucked away 70th Street garden, designed by notable landscape designer Russell Page, was recently the locus of controversy. The original proposal for The Frick Collection’s 2015 renovations called for removal of the courtyard and accompanying entrance pavilion to create more space for installations. Thanks to community-led activism, the courtyard was saved.

The Garden Court, however, remains open to the public year round as almost interactive, permanent installation of The Frick Collection. Located in the courtyard of the mansion, it was designed by John Russell Pope to replace the open carriage court of the original Frick residence. The Court’s paired Ionic columns and symmetrical planting beds were echoed in Pope’s later designs for the original building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.  Check out The Frick Collection’s virtual tour of the courtyard for a cyber-sense of what it has to offer.

Additionally, just this past month The Frick Collection expanded their pay-as-you-wish hours. Now, New Yorkers and visitors are welcome to donate at their leisure on Wednesdays, from 2 to 6 PM. in addition to the previous free admission on Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and monthly First Friday’s from  6 to 9 PM

The East River Promenade

A rendering of the promenade’s proposed future design via the Office of the Mayor.

The East River Promenade, a paved brick pathway running roughly 1.5 miles along the East River Greenway, is a path designed for pedestrians to take a stroll or for cyclists to ride with East River views (minus distraction of street traffic). The Promenade was closed for almost a decade before reopening back in 2012, with those renovations turning what New York City Department of Parks and Recreation called, “a longtime urban blight,” into, “one of the best vistas in the city.” The walk also features sights of Triborough and Hell Gate bridges, unobstructed views of Roosevelt Island, and a passing of Gracie Mansion.

Though the promenade and FDR Drive have an intriguing past, even more exciting is the park’s future. A new esplanade will be built between 53rd Street and 61st Street, with the design phase commencing this year and construction completed by 2022. This important stretch at the southern end of Sutton Place South will add access to the waterfront where currently apartments sit elevated above a covered portion of the FDR Drive, and continuing under the Queensboro Bridge, to the abandoned rollercoaster-like structure at 61st Street, an art installation by Alice Aycock from 1994. The new esplanade will be built over the East River, and initial approvals have already been obtained from the US Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and State Department of Environmental Conservation.