Originally opened to the public in 1847, by the late 1970’s, Bryant Park had fallen into disrepair and was, like many of the City’s public spaces at that time, grimy, unkempt, and typically avoided by most New Yorkers. It was certainly not a place anyone would want to spend a lunch hour or afternoon.
The Bryant Park Restoration Corporation was founded in 1980 by Dan Biederman and Andrew Heiskell, chairman of Time Inc. and the New York Public Library. The BPRC’s goal was to clean up the park and make it once again a place people wanted to visit. After some initial successes, BPRC closed the park in 1988 to undertake a four-year project to build new park entrances with increased visibility from the street, enhance the landscape design and improve and repair paths and lighting. BPRC's plan also included restoring the park's monuments, renovating its restrooms, and building new restaurant pavilions and concession kiosks.
After a four-year effort, the park reopened in 1992 to widespread acclaim. It won numerous urban planning awards, and has been lauded as one of the signature examples of New York City's revival in the 1990s. With a low crime rate, the park became filled with office workers on sunny weekdays, city visitors on the weekends, and revelers during the holidays. Today, daily attendance counts often exceed 800 people per acre, making it the most densely occupied urban park in the world.
Bryant Park introduced the Holiday Shops in 2002, in an effort to draw people to the park even during the winter. Initially slow to gain traction, the now called “Winter Village” became a fixture of the Manhattan holiday scene in 2005 with the addition of New York's only free-admission ice skating rink, which includes a standalone dining and event space.
In September 2016, Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group took over the fine dining venues and Urbanspace was brought in to expand the holiday shops, which now offer a selection of local and homemade goods including a food market featuring many of the city’s restaurants.
The Bryant Park Winter Carnival is the final event of the season, and offers winter fun for the whole family. It will run from Friday, January 26 through Sunday, February 4 this year. All activities are free, admission to The Rink is free, and skate rental is $20.
Professional Skating Performances
Kid’s Skating Lessons
A Children’s Puppet Show on Ice
Fitness Classes from Yoga to Hiit Training at the Rink's Indoor Event Space
Karaoke & more!
For a full line-up of events, check the Bryant Park website here!