Bryant Park

Public Spaces

"A Justly Lauded Jewel..."

Toronto journalist remarks on free public programming and the success of privately managed public spaces.

Angelito Jusay Photography

What makes Bryant Park successful? Private management. When our neighbors took a stake in the success of the park more than 30 years ago, they provided Bryant Park Corporation with the means to keep the park clean, safe, and filled with varied programming.

Toronto Star freelancer Judith Timson understands this. On a recent trip to the Big Apple, Ms. Timson found herself spending four unplanned hours at the park. In this short time, she people-watched as soccer fans cheered for the U.S. at Southwest Porch; enjoyed fish tacos and a glass of wine with her husband at Bryant Park Café; attended a reading by poets from Canada’s Tightrope Press at Bryant Park Reading Room; and played a game of Scrabble at Bryant Park Games. Winding up her visit with a cup of Talenti gelato, she regretted not listening in at Piano in Bryant Park or learning how to juggle, but this assiduous observer noted that she could have, had she the time.

Ms. Timson was quite smitten with the park, and wrote about its dramatic transformation from a drug-plagued wasteland to a veritable urban oasis. Most importantly, she discovered the reason for the park’s success. A self-described skeptic of private management of public spaces, she writes: “[S]itting in Bryant Park made me rethink the possibilities and yearn for great civic leadership and the vision to do it right.” She ends her article by exhorting Toronto’s leaders to pay heed. We hope they do so.

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