HOW BRYANT PARK WENT FROM SKETCHY TO LOVELY
- •In the 1980’s, Bryant Park was one of the greatest drug dens in New York City.
- •Burden says the overgrown hedges and trees made it a perfect place for shady business because you couldn’t really see into the park or see out of it.
- •As a result, the surrounding neighborhood suffered. People didn't even want to go the nearby New York Public Library, because they were worried about being mugged.
- •Enter urbanologist William “Holly” Whyte.
- •He proposed to take down all the hedges around the edges of the park. That way, everyone could see easily into the park.
- •He also put in movable chairs instead of fixed benches. Whyte believed the simple act of moving a chair before you sit down makes you feel like you’ve claimed your own space.
- •Attention to detail helped transform Bryant Park into a place people wanted to take lunch or read a book. It also helped increase the real estate values in the surrounding neighborhood.
- •According to Burden, great public spaces help cities thrive. Bryant Park is proof that thoughtful design can make a big impact.