Bryant Park Today
From a derelict park to an urban oasis
Soon after, on January 1, 1980, the Bryant Park Corporation (BPC) – then called Bryant Park Restoration Corporation – was founded, with the aim to restore, program, and operate the park. The fledgling not-for-profit organization was led by Daniel A. Berderman, a young Harvard Business School graduate, and Andrew Heiskell, the Chairman
BPC undertook a massive cleaning effort and deployed additional maintenance staff throughout the park. Graffiti was removed, free public events were staged, and in areas formerly occupied by drug-sellers, the Parks Council installed temporary vendor kiosks for books and flowers, and BPC installed a half-price tickets booth. Attracted by these improvements, some park visitors returned, and soon after BPC unveiled a master plan to radically renovate Bryant Park. Drafted in 1980, the plan focused on long-term, funding and management of the park, and also provided for an improved lawn, two full-service restaurants, gravel paths, major capital repairs, improved lighting, and a meticulous restoration of the park’s restrooms and monuments.
With support from the Mayor’s Office and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the management and operational duties were transferred over to the BPC, making it the first publicly-owned park in the United States to become fully privately managed. Bierderman, aided first by NYPL Chairman and several major property-owners, created a business improvement district, the Bryant Park Management Corporation, which united the park’s abutting property-owners to assure an initial income stream for maintenance, and a source of credit for the development of revenue-producing facilities.
On March 1,
In all, BPC raised $18 million for the park renovation from private donations, a bank loan, risk capital from park concessionaires, and the city. To provide operating money for the park’s private sanitation and security forces, and horticultural maintenance, the company combined several new revenue streams. These included rental fees from commercial events, concession revenues, corporate sponsorships, and BID revenues.
Bryant Park reopened in April 1992 to lavish praise from citizens and visitors, the media, and urbanists. As noted in an Urban Land Institute award citation, “the success of the park feeds the success of the neighborhood.” Soon the chorus was joined by the business community, whose assessments helpedfund the renewal, and who now benefit from much higher property values.
The redesign brought not only significant physical changes in the parks design, but free music, dance, and children’s programming, classes, and concessions. Year-around amenities added since 1992 including a full-service bar and restaurant (1995), four food kiosks (1992), free wi-fi internet access (2002), a custom-built carousel (2002), and a custom furnished lounge-like deck accented with exotic plants (2009). Seasonal amenities include the Holiday Shops (2002), the Reading Room (2003), a winter ice skating rink (2005), and ping pong (2009). In the spring and summer, BPC offers over 500 free classes including yoga, knitting, and fencing. Other activities include birding tours, petanque and chess tournaments, free concerts, and book talks in the Reading Room. The start of the park’s busy summer season is marked by the return of the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, a weekly event that draws thousands of visitors to the park to enjoy outdoor screenings of classic films. BPC continues to add new programs, events, and amenities, as well as adjust older favorites to cater to an ever-growing and diverse population. By paying careful attention to detail, service quality, and visitor feedback, BPC has increased its visitor count from almost zero in the late 1970s to six million people per year. Discovereven more historical detail about Bryant Park! Go to www.bryantpark.org
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Notable Places.
Location. 40° 45.222′ N, 73° 58.97′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker can be reached from West 40th Street. This marker is located in Bryant Park which is bounded by West 42nd Street, 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), West 40th Street and the New York Public Library. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10018, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Monuments in Bryant Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Buildings Overlooking Bryant Park (within shouting distance of this marker); The Engineers Club (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); American-Standard Building (about 400 feet away); The Crystal Palace (about 400 feet away); Early Bryant Park (about 500 feet away); New York Public Library (about 500 feet away); HSBC (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
Also see . . . Bryant Park today - Bryant Park.org. But by the late 1990s, actual lunchtime head counts on a sunny day would reach the 4,000 range – and the drug traffickers had been gone for a decade. (Submitted on July 3, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 3, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 360 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 3, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.