Now that spring is here and we're all itching to get outside, it's a good time to check in and see what's new at Harlem's historic parks, the neighborhood's four leafy jewels with exciting projects in various stages of development. Look out for restored landmarks, refurbished dog parks, outdoor cafes, and much more in the coming months (and years).
Bridging Morningside Heights and South Harlem, this narrow-but-long park keeps getting nicer and nicer. Last year the City Gardens Club funded the restoration of the pond and waterfall at the park's southern end. Just now Playground 123 at the northern tip reopened with new playground equipment, seating, planting, lighting and more. Earlier this year the park also announced it was accepting proposals for an outdoor cafe at 112th Street and Morningside Avenue. The concession stand should be in place within the next year, according to Friends of Morningside Park.
Home to a modern amphitheater, rec center, and outdoor pool, this large park in the heart of Harlem always always has lots going on. Stop by right now for a walk past artist Maren Hassinger's eight site-specific branch sculptures, on view courtesy of the Studio Museum. A free performance of Shakespeare's The Tempest from the Public Theater Mobile Unit is also coming on April 5. But the park's biggest attraction will soon be the restored historic Harlem Fire Watchtower at the top of the hill. The current anticipated completion date is mid-April, according to the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance.
With its large, sloping hills, 23-acre St. Nicholas Park is a favorite spot for sledding in the winter and outdoor movies in the summer–and tours of Alexander Hamilton's historic house all year long. Walk up the center of the park and you'll find the wooded Dog Run at St. Nicholas Park at the top, currently undergoing renovations. A new gate is already in place, but construction on the paved path in front continues. The Friends of St. Nicholas Park is meeting next week, if you want to get involved with the park in general.
The northernmost park in this historic quartet, ten-block-long Jackie Robinson Park is getting a major overhaul as part of the Parks Department's Parks Without Borders initiative. Its rec center, bandshell, outdoor pool, basketball courts and playground will remain open while the park's surrounding chain link fences are ripped up and replaced with more elegant fencing, and its main entrances and walkways are completely overhauled. The reconstruction is set to finish this fall.