Bryant Park

By Dianne Boardman

Dianne Boardman

New York City’s Rockefeller Center might be the most famous place to go skating in Manhattan in December, but some days you don’t so much skate as get zoomed along shoulder to shoulder in the crush. At least there is no chance of falling over! I would recommend nearby Bryant Park instead. Located in Midtown on West 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, it offers a more relaxed skating experience in a large and pretty privately run yet public park, reopened in the 1990’s after years of decline.

It’s outer rim is ringed by reflectively-gleaming glass skyscrapers and surrounding the rink there is a Winter Village with cafes and stalls selling everything from olive oil and soap to souvenirs and books.Towering over the whole East side of the park is the New York Public Library, a gorgeous elegant Beaux-Arts building built on a terrace with steps from the street that act as a resting and meeting place and dotted with sculptures and fountains. It’s a building that is worth a look both inside and out. Outside, the tree is huge, festive and colourful and usually surrounded by entertainers performing in the square.

A bronze monument to William Cullen Bryant, a 19th century newspaper editor and poet who was instrumental in the creation of Bryant Park looks out over his dream. Sculptured by Herbert Adams, it was unveiled in 1911 on completion of the library. Many other sculptures abound from Goethe to Gertrude Stein, some of which are copies as the originals are in museums. The Bryant Park Hotel across the street is a luxury yet incredibly friendly option for accommodation too and I love the breakfasts at Maison Kayser a few doors down. See the website for more details.

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