Paley Park is a pocket park located at 3 East 53rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on the former site of the Stork Club.[1] Designed by the landscape architectural firm of Zion Breen Richardson Associates, it opened May 23, 1967.[2][3] Paley Park is often cited as one of the finest urban spaces in the United States.[4]

Paley Park in winter

Description Edit

Measuring 4,200 square feet (390 m2), the park contains airy trees, lightweight furniture and simple spatial organization.[3] A 20-foot (6.1 m) high waterfall, with a capacity of 1,800 US gallons (6,800 L) per minute, spans the entire back of the park. The waterfall creates a backdrop of grey noise to mask the sounds of the city. The park is surrounded by walls on three sides and is open to the street (with an ornamental gate) on the fourth side, facing the street. The walls are covered in ivy, and an overhead canopy is formed by honey locust trees.[3]


A privately owned public space,[3][5] Paley Park was financed by the William S. Paley Foundation and was named by Paley for his father, Samuel Paley. A plaque near the entrance reads: "This park is set aside in memory of Samuel Paley, 1875–1963, for the enjoyment of the public."

Design features Edit

A wheelchair ramp is positioned on either side of the four steps that lead into the park which is elevated from the sidewalk level. The park displays a unique blend of synthetic materials, textures, colors and sounds. The wire mesh chairs and marble tables are light, while the ground surfaces are rough-hewn granite pavers which extend across the sidewalk to the street curb. The honey locust trees were planted at 12-foot (3.7 m) intervals. The green of the ivy-covered side walls ("vertical lawns"[5]) contrast with colorful flowers.

The Paley Center for Media was originally next to Paley Park.

Impact Edit

In 1968, Paley Park and the Ford Foundation Building shared an Albert S. Bard Civic Award, distributed to structures that exhibited "excellence in architecture and urban design".[6][7]

Social interaction in the park was analyzed in the film The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte.[3]

Paley Park also inspired the similarly sized Theodora Park in Charleston, South Carolina, which opened in June 2015.[citation needed]

References Edit

  1. ^ Carroll, Maurice (September 20, 1967). "Paley Park: A Corner of Quiet Delights Amid City's Bustle; 53d St. Haven Has Something for Everyone". The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  2. ^ Paley Park, Accessed October 8, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Great Public Spaces: Paley Park". Project for Public Spaces. Archived from the original on September 7, 2006. Retrieved October 8, 2007.
  4. ^ "The World's Best and Worst Parks". Project for Public Spaces. September 2004. Archived from the original on February 7, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Paley Park, The Cultural Landscape Foundation
  6. ^ "Whitney Museum Wins Bard Prize; Paley Park and Ford Fund Building Also Honored". The New York Times. April 26, 1968. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  7. ^ "Awards" (PDF). Architectural Forum. Vol. 128. May 1968. pp. 97–98 (PDF 89–90).

Further reading Edit

  • Kayden, Jerold S. (2000). Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780471362579.
  • Tate, Alan (2001). Great City Parks. London: Spon Press. ISBN 0-419-24420-4.

40°45′37″N 73°58′30.4″W / 40.76028°N 73.975111°W / 40.76028; -73.975111