By Tom Ehrich

Of New York City’s 1,500-plus parks, my favorite might be Bryant Park, a 9.6-acre rectangle set behind the New York Public Library in Midtown Manhattan.

Gone are any vestiges of the park’s bad old days as a haven for drug users. Today, on a warm spring day, we bought food at Metro Cafe and stepped off 42nd Street and joined a crowd of office workers lingering at small tables.

Soon the park will offer Monday night movies on its lawn, as well as a mass yoga class and freestyle laying-about. Office workers will bring laptops and tablets to use the park’s free wi-fi as a second office. Not the quietest workspace, but still remarkably freeing.

I especially like walking briskly through the park on my way to work. It feels like a touch of Paris — still empty, though on its way to being the most densely occupied park in the world.

The urge toward freedom is built deeply into us. Even in urban congestion, we find places where we can see the sky, feel grass, laze about, and talk about something other than business.

Architectural historians refer to Grand Central Terminal as “New York’s cathedral.” But I think our worship space is actually the parks that enable us to be ourselves, honest before God.

Comment