E is for Elevated
Elevated Acre… the Secret Garden!
Located at 55 Water Street, New York , N.Y. 10041
Elevated Acre must be the least known among the 1,700 parks in NYC, without doubt. Even some of my native New Yorker friends had never heard of this park till recently.
Can you imagine an island of peace and quiet, with lush greenery and awesome views of blue waters, towering bridges and helicopters taking off like dragon flies? That too, in the middle of teeming, buzzling downtown Manhattan Financial District? Yes, such a place exists… the Elevated Acre!
This haven of tranquility remains so because it is so well hidden in plain sight. Would you have given this stairway a second look unless… unless you knew it led somewhere fantastic?
Yes, that set of stairs/ escalators at 55 Water Street takes you to the Elevated Acre, 40 feet above the ground, located on top of a parking garage.
The Elevated Acre is a one acre park, as the name implies, with landscaped gardens on one half and an open green astroturf meadow on the other forming a seven-tiered concrete amphitheater.
The park offers stunning views of the East River, Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge. If in the mood, you can also watch the helicopters taking off from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport on Pier 6.
Three sides of the park are surrounded by the skyscrapers of the Financial District; the fourth side has a promenade that looks out over the East River.
At one end of the promenade is the lantern, called the Beacon of Progress. Contemporary in design and illuminated by programmable LEDs, the beacon is visible along the highway, the harbor and across the river in Brooklyn Heights.
There is sufficient seating all over the park whether you want to sit in the shade of the trees or in the sun on the promenade. What totally surprised me was the sense of pleasant solitude as there was hardly any people in the park. It seemed like even the noises of downtown Manhattan did not dare touch this beautiful place!
You can comfortably use this as your ‘work from home’ space as the park offers free WiFi. The Elevated Acre is within walking distance from Wall Street, the World Trade Center, and Battery Park.
The Elevated Acre hosts a wide range of programs, performances and organized events, the amphitheater providing seating for more than 100 people. It is also available for rental for private events.
The park is one of the few privately owned public open spaces (POPOS) in New York City, a type of public space that although privately owned, is legally required to be open to the public under a city’s zoning ordinance or other land-use law. It was a result of the 1961 Zoning Ordinance, new property regulations that allowed a developer to add extra floors to their building if they agreed to include a public plaza in their design.
The initial version of the plaza was a flat empty space surrounded by a semicircular curving brick wall, with a few trees. Later on, it was closed to the public for several years.
The plaza went through a total transformation when Ken Smith and Rogers Marvel won an international competition sponsored by the Municipal Art Society and the developer to renovate the space. The project was completed and opened to the public in today’s delightful avatar in 2005.
The Elevated Acre can be reached by stairs and escalators from Water Street and by stairs from FDR Drive. It can also be reached by elevator from the lobby.
Hard to believe that the entire site is reclaimed land; prior to the expansion of Lower Manhattan in the 18th and 19th centuries, the site was part of the East River.
What a beautiful secret gem!
What a perfect little gem in the middle of the city! I never would have guessed such a thing existed!
I love Elevated Acre, but don’t go there when it’s windy: it’s the ultimate bad hair day!
Excellent article. It really describes the park, especially the sense of solitude amidst been in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the city.