Summer is all about getting outdoors and enjoying the fresh air, and this summer has been a good season for NYC public spaces–Bushwick Inlet Park just recently opened their newest green space, giving NYers 1.89 acres worth of gorgeous outdoor space to enjoy, and now Lower Manhattan is home to two brand new public plazas.
On Friday, July 15, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue and NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala cut the ribbon on two newly opened plazas in Lower Manhattan, giving the public two areas to enjoy the great outdoors at the intersection of Grand and Lafayette Street, and East 4th Street between Bowery and Lafayette.
“As the weather heats up, our public spaces become only more important to keeping New Yorkers cool and able to enjoy the outdoors,” said NYC Mayor Eric Adams in a press release. “Manuel Plaza and Rapkin-Gayle Plaza are perfect examples of investments in our public realm that make our city more beautiful, more enjoyable, and more resilient for years to come.”
The new green spaces feature seating, greenery, drinking fountains, and synthetic turf areas for recreation.
Rapkin-Gayle Plaza, located at the intersection of Grand and Lafayette Streets, is named in honor of Chester Rapkin and Margot Gayle, two important figures in SoHo history. Manuel Plaza, on East 4th Street between Bowery and Lafayette Street, is named in acknowledgment of the first North American free Black settlement, known as the “Land of the Blacks.”
“These new plazas raise the bar for what public space can be in New York City, with a beautiful and creative design, native plants that are both beautiful and ecologically sensitive, and a resilient infrastructure that will protect us from major flood events,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark D. Levine. “I’m grateful to the DEP and the Parks Department for the collaboration that made these projects possible.”
And as if this news couldn’t get any better, according to the release a third DEP site at 10th Avenue and West 48th Street is in the works, which will be named in honor of playwright and writer Lorraine Hansberry.