Thursday, September 11, 2008

Enjoying the Country in the City: Green Space and Markets in New York City

While many people think of New York City as a hunk of grey concrete, there are many things “green” in the city. Two recent posts (see archives) have talked about some great green eating in the city. Public transportation and walking are the only way to get around, and for the brave, bicycling. While the downtown “Village” of Manhattan, and the boroughs (Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island) can be a little confusing to navigate, the center of Manhattan is very simple. It is based on a grid and numbered with ascending numbers going uptown or north. Below Central Park (south of 59th Street) most of the avenues are numbered and ascend from East to West. On either side of the park some of the avenues are named. For a native New Yorker these are ingrained as to which are West Side and which are East side, for visitors it is best to carry a map.

For literally green areas of the city there are over 1700 parks and recreational areas, the largest of which is Central Park, designated a National Historic Landmark, with 843 acres and 26,000 trees, the park runs 2.5 miles long by .5 miles wide. Strawberry Fields, named in honor of John Lennon, covers 2.5 acres within Central Park on the West side between 71st and 74th Streets. Strawberry Fields, considered a “Quiet Space” in Central Park, has a mosaic inscribed with the word “Imagine”. One hundred and twenty-one countries recognize Strawberry Fields as a Garden of Peace. Central Park is filled with trails and sites, ball fields, theaters, flowers and more. See the web site below for full information.

New York City has numerous Farmer’s Markets, called Greenmarkets. Thirty markets operate seasonally sometime between April and November, while sixteen markets are open year round. Some of the larger year round markets include:
Union Square in Manhattan between 14th-17th streets and Broadway, once a haven for drug dealers and users, is now a refurbished mini-park, home to the Union Square GreenMarket. Accessible by many subway lines and buses, the Union Square GreenMarket is open year round from 8am-6pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Farmers sell a variety of fresh, local foods including in-season specialties such as cherries and peaches, as well as vegetables, meats, dairy products, crafts and plants.
At the north entrance of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Grand Army Plaza hosts a GreenMarket on Saturdays year round from 8am-4pm.
The Bowling Green GreenMarket is held at the southern tip of Manhattan at Broadway and Battery Place on Tuesdays and Thursdays around the year from 8am to 5pm. See the website information below for a full listing of all the GreenMarkets with their days, times and locations.

On sunny days the green spaces of New York come alive with walkers, joggers, bicyclers, roller bladers, sunbathers and others enjoying the country in the city. The GreenMarkets are always bustling, so arrive earlier rather than later for the best selections. You will find it almost hard to believe you are in one of the largest cities in the world!

To find Parks throughout New York City go to the following link for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation -
You can also find free wifi hotspots in city parks including seven in Central Park, two in Prospect Park, and throughout Union Square, Washington Square and Battery Parks. For information specific to Central Park see the Central Park Conservancy - - for maps, events, sites and hours.

At the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) - you will find full information about Greenmarket Farmer’s Markets throughout the five boroughs with a downloadable map at: . The Council also provides information about recycling throughout the city, as well as how to generally live a greener lifestyle using non-toxic alternatives to common products.

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