New York City is full of little hidden nooks, crannies, and mysteries waiting to be discovered. It also has a wealth of city parks available for residents and tourists alike. Though the most famous is Central Park, it is far from the largest, the oldest, or the most interesting. Below are some of the more unusual parks the city has to offer, some of which residents will already be familiar with and some which are hopefully fun surprises.
The High Line is a Manhattan park that sits on top of what used to be above-ground subway tracks. This five-year-old park first opened in 2009 and is about twenty blocks long. This modern and innovatively designed public space has plants growing in between the original railroad tracks with a wooden boardwalk woven throughout the length of the park. Plenty of benches are also installed, giving visitors a chance to sit and admire both the greenery and the spectacular New York skyline. Vendors can be found in the park as well, providing visitors their sugar or caffeine fixes. The High Line can be found between 10th and 11th Avenue in Manhattan and can be entered at various points between Gansevoort Street and West 30th. Friends of the High Line, an organization that maintains the park, are currently fundraising to expand it further.
Pelham Bay Park
The largest park in the city, Pelham Bay Park feels like it might as well be a world away. There is a little bit of everything at this park, from forests to salt marshes, and plenty to do as well. Whether looking to rent a horse or a golf club, visitors can enjoy nature while also soaking in some New York City history at this 125-year-old Bronx park. Even the golf course is over a century old. Over the course of its life the park has hosted a navy base, an army base, and a police recruit training camp, as well as a far less glamorous, but fortunately short-lived, landfill. There is even a museum, an old historical home that has been preserved. Anyone looking to visit the park should take the number six train to the last stop in the Bronx.
Hudson River Park
Hudson River Park’s claim to fame is that it is the longest riverfront park in the United States, no mean feat. This lovely long park runs up the west side of Manhattan and offers a wide range of activities for visitors. The bike path is very popular, as riders can bike up the length of Manhattan, linking up to Riverside Park once Hudson River Park ends. There is also kayaking, dog runs, golf, and even a flying trapeze program. Though the bike path actually starts at Battery Place, the main park begins at western end of Chambers Street.
This island park off of the tip of Manhattan is technically a national monument, not a city park, but in the summer it is opened for visitors, complete with a free ferry ride from the Battery Maritime Building on the southern tip of Manhattan. The wide open fields, many empty historic homes and buildings, and frequent events gives this island somewhat the feeling of a massive abandoned town or college campus. For almost 200 years the island functioned as an army base, and in the ’60s became a coast guard installation. Its history goes all the way back to the first settlers and the American Revolution. There are even old historical forts on the island, making for fascinating exploration.
Arguably the smallest park in the New York City, this tiny alley of a park can be found on 71st Street in Manhattan, between West End and Amsterdam Avenue. Due to its size, the park consists mainly of a few benches on a cobblestone pathway and some lush greenery planted against the neighboring buildings. Despite its size, it provides a small island of tranquility within the busy city streets it is nestled amongst.