It was a lovely spring day in Central Park when my girlfriend remarked that she’d only begun noticing strollers around New York City after she’d had her baby and found herself pushing one as well. I looked around and realized that families had decided to take advantage of the all-too-rare perfect weather just like we had, and had come out to the park in droves. I marveled at the little kids running around, envious that they get to grow up with Central Park as their playground.
New York City gets a bad rap for being a concrete jungle, and New Yorkers get pretty defensive when celebrities pick up their kids and move away. But few are aware that there are more than 30,000 acres of public park land that is maintained by the city for the benefit of the residents, not including additional parks under federal and state jurisdiction or those that are privately owned. To put it in context, Central Park only ranks fifth on the list of largest parks maintained by the city, and there are over 1,700 spaces — including playgrounds and recreational facilities — to be enjoyed.
Madison Square Park is a seven-acre green space located in the heart of the city, at Madison Avenue between 23rd and 26th Street. It has a storied history, with such famous residents as Edith Wharton (during the 1860s and 1870s) and the Flatiron Building (1902 to present). Although it was once in an elite neighborhood, time took its toll and it eventually fell into disrepair. A campaign was initiated, and the park was renovated into the wonderful space it remains until today.
One of the lovely features of Madison Square Park is its commitment to a strong art program. Martin Puryear’s Big Bling is their latest public art exhibition, running from May 16, 2016 through January 8, 2017. As noted on their website:
Big Bling’s architectural language suggests a building that is accessible by ascension through its levels. Its storeys are obstructed by chain-link fence, a barrier to entry, which will cover all visible surfaces of the sculpture. In contrast to the coarse materials employed throughout most of the work, the gold shackle is a shimmering beacon that simultaneously adorns and restrains.
But Madison Square Arts isn’t satisfied with simply commissioning such a stunning piece like Big Bling and placing it on display, it has also scheduled multiple art talks and performances so everyone can discuss, share and exchange thoughts on the work. You can simply be a passive admirer strolling through the park, or choose to engage in one of the many options provided to experience Big Bling more fully. What do you see when you look at it?
Madison Square Park
Pair it with:
Dessert at the Nutella Bar in Eataly
Being in Madison Square Park, you might’ve already succumbed to the temptation of one of its own residents, Shake Shack (to be covered as the food pairing in an upcoming post). And really, we wouldn’t blame you. But we operate on the theory that humans have a separate stomach for dessert, because, you know, we always find room. (Scientific study pending.) So head on over across Fifth Avenue to Eataly’s Nutella Bar. Yes, you heard right, there is a section of the Italian food superstore that is strictly dedicated to that magical, hazelnutty chocolate spread in a jar. You can pick one of their pastries filled with Nutella, order a freshly prepared crepe with Nutella, or go with gelato that they drizzle in, you guessed it, Nutella. Nutella is the substance I’m most likely to die overdosing from, and I’m really quite okay with that.
Tip: Use the entrance on 23rd Street if you’d like direct access to the Nutella Bar without having to go through the madness that is Eataly.
200 5th Avenue
Open daily 10 a.m.-11 p.m.