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Bryant Park, 42nd Street and 6th Ave

In the late 1800s, Bryant Park was called Reservoir Square. Named after the former Croton Distributing Reservoir, located just east of the park. Read More

Bryant Park

Bryant Park, 1925

Rich in history, Bryant Park started out as a Potter's Field in 1823 until 1840, when it was removed to make way for the urban developments that were slowly moving north from Wall Street. A 4-acre reservoir, called the Croton Distributing Reservoir, (site of the present day New York Public Library) was constructed. The reservoir itself was a major engineering feat, consisting of twenty five foot long granite walls, with public promenades on the top. Just to the west of it, bordering 6th Ave, between 42nd Street and 43rd Street, was a small Victorian park, called Reservoir Park. At this site, New York held it's first World's Fair and a beautiful Victorian glass and iron building called The Crystal Palace was built. The building hosted millions of visitors between 1853 to 1854 and in 1858, it burned down.

Reservoir Park was renamed Bryant Park in 1884, afterS poet William Cullen Bryant, who died in 1878. In the early 1890s, the reservoir was demolished and the new library was then constructed.

In the 1920s and 30s, Bryant Park lost is status, as subway and other construction overshadowed the park. It was a dumping ground for steel, pipes and other items, leaving it undesirable as a park. This picture of 1927 has captured this rather, low moment of Bryant Park history, with the pipes seen in the foreground. The park does look dismal and the house, probably situated in a nice suburban neighborhood some 50 years earlier is no doubt used as a commercial enterprise, as a large sign lies atop of it.

Noted parks commissioner Robert Moses came to the rescue and redesigned Bryant Park to the praise of many New Yorkers. In the late 1980s, the park was again transformed to rid the drug elements that were known to canvas it, with more entrances and landscaping that resulted in thousands of daily visitors even to this day.

This picture is one of our snapshots in history, as the statue in the lower right would most probably be that of William Bryant. The photo was taken on the corner of 40th Street and 6th Ave., facing north. The main building is the Bush Building, located and still standing at 130 West 42nd Street.

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