It was too early for my meeting at 200 West Street, so I took my time walking over on Chambers Street in New York City and came upon Washington Market Park. It was mid-August and I was wearing a suit, so the shade and benches I spotted through the wrought iron fence and greenery seemed too inviting to pass up. I asked a guard at a Borough of Manhattan Community College security kiosk where the park entrance was as I had missed the one slightly north on Greenwich Street, which would have lead me through an arbor of pine or spruce mounted on metal columns. Instead, she directed me to a somewhat unceremonious staircase leading down from the campus plaza into the park.
Yet coming in from BMCC brought me past the work shed where, had I not known better, I might have found Bilbo Baggins in a NYC Parks Department uniform. An asphalt path, no more than 2.5 feet wide, wended in an S-shape with black-eyed Susans and sunflowers on the right, leading straight to what could very well be Bilbo’s shed, which featured a green canopy of vines and branches that was at once unkempt and cultivated in a typical British fashion.
As I sat on a wooden bench shaded underneath some trees along the path that formed the circumference of the park, I looked out to the open park area that almost resembles a mini Sheep Meadow. Unlike in the more-popular Central Park, instead of sunbathers and Frisbee players, I saw toddlers roaming with their mothers. And instead of the GM building on 59th Street, I stared up at the Woolworth Building.
In addition, there is a community garden on the north end of the park, a gazebo on the south end, a playground, and tennis courts on the west. They are apparently a part of Washington Market Park, not BMCC.
The park is relatively new as far as New York parks go. While young (it was established in 1978), it has played a significant role by providing space for service during 9/11 as “a lot for emergency vehicles and as a power station,” according to the Friends of Washington Market Park website (http://www.washingtonmarketpark.org).
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Post by Howard Freeman