City parks are generally thought of as green spaces that are small oases from the everyday bustle. But in NYC, steps within the concrete jungle stands a jungle gym. Sometimes a NYC park is just a basketball park. Yet every day on my way to work, I pass a fascinating 7.3 acres referred to as Sara D. Roosevelt Park.
Although it lacks the sprawling fields of grass like Central Park’s Great Lawn, it is an adventure-filled parcel of land that invites passersby to enter a very different world. Right off the Manhattan Bridge by Grand and Chrystie Streets, a group of people start every morning with dancing outdoors. The leader of the group is hard to identify, but it seems like all are welcome to join and dance at their own comfort level. Some days they move fast, other times in slow motion, and once in a while they even have props like paper fans. No matter the style or speed, they all look like they are starting their day with a bright bang.
When you head north, you will come across the recently renovated Hester Playground with sand lot, as well as the delightfully lush Forsyth Garden Conservancy. At the sunken court, known as “the pit” on Broome Street, you never know if you will stumble upon some Asian Bo fighting, a Street Soccer Tournament or a game of bicycle polo. Along the way, you might see a small social gathering at the Outdoor Living Room on Delancey (complete with furniture) and you can find people practicing Tai Chi at the sidelines of a basketball court, by a bench or under a gingko tree before they collect the fallen nuts. On the weekends, there have even been games of Quidditch on Nike Field.
In the summer, a seasonal delight can be found – the hidden bird sanctuary called the Hua Mei Bird Garden where older Chinese gentlemen come together and bring their birds in bamboo cages to the park. The cages are hung on a series of ropes and the birds are left to sing through the morning for everyone to hear, a practice started when the park was dilapidated and dangerous, by three Chinese men in the early 90’s to replicate bird gardens in China. This area is my favorite part of this 7-block park because I am reminded of the power of transformation through a simple birdsong.
For more on the Sara D. Roosevelt Park, go to http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/saradroosevelt