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March 2004 - Capital Project of the Month

COLUMBUS PARK



Landscape Architect: Hui Mei Grove, Bill Gotthelf, George Bloomer, Allan Scholl, Doug Nash, Dennis Flynn

Architect: Historic Preservation Department

Specifications: Susan Coker, Ruby Wei

Consultant Engineers: Dewberry & Goodkind, Inc.

Environmental Engineer: Tohamy Bahr

Electrical Engineer: Magary Aime

Structural Engineer: Reza Mashayekhi

Surveyor: Sandy Wansley, Richard Berry, Geoffrey Lawrence, Dominic Cusumano

Reviews: Vincent Macaluso





The Park is located in Community Board 3 and Council District 1. It is surrounded by court buildings and a residential tower to its West and South on Baxter Street and attached brick and/or stone town houses of two to five stories with storefront on street level to North, Bayard Street , and East on Bayard Street .

This Federally funded project will restore the northern half of this gateway park into the Chinatown community. The currently closed Pavilion will be reconstructed for public community space and to provide much needed public bathrooms. Barrier free access will be provided to all levels of the Pavilion through stairs, ramps and a mechanical lift. The upper Pavilion space will be restored with sensitivity to the original look. Bird deterrent will also be installed on the truss-frame structure to deal with the extreme bird problem on site.

columbusThe seating area to the south of the pavilion and the spaces around the pavilion will also be reconstructed. It is heavily used by the community in many ways including as a lunch spot for office workers from the courthouses, as a gathering space for a quick game of mondj, or just to sit and relax under a shady spot. An Asian themed garden will be planted to enhance the existing vegetation, reinforce the gateway link to Chinatown , and act as a transition between the active ballfield area and the pavilion. DOT has agreed to narrow Baxter Street allowing us to create more greenspace and a sitting area to the south. This garden reconstruction will enhance the building setting and provide handicap access and landscaped transition zones between active and passive use areas.

Columbus Park, ca. 1902
Credit: New York City Parks Photo Archive

Columbus Park, ca. 1902

SITE HISTORY

Columbus Park was named after Christopher Columbus (1451-1506). Bounded by Baxter (formally Orange), Worth (formerly Anthony), Bayard and Mulberry Street, the site has alternately been named Mulberry Bend Park, Five Points Park and Paradise Park. Situated in the heart of one of the oldest residential areas of Manhattan , adjacent to the infamous "Five Points" and "the Bend ," Columbus Park stands at the crossroads of the history and culture of New York City .



Opening of Playground October 12, 1911 Mulberry Bend Park was planned in the 1880's by Calvert Vaux, the famed co-designer of Central Park . Vaux saw it as an opportunity to bring new life and order into the depressed neighborhood. Jacob Riis remarked of the park that it is "little less than a revolution" to see the slum housing go down, while "in its place come trees and grass and flowers; for its dark hovels light and sunshine and air." The park opened in the summer of 1897, with bench-lined curved walkways and an expansive, open grassy area.

Opening of Playground October 12, 1911
Credit: New York City Parks Photo Archive

Athletic meet, 1913It was one of the city's first major urban parks, and was home to such events as "interpark Playground Basket Ball," then played by a youth segregated by weight class, as designated by the Park Commissioner in 1913. Throughout the years many re-constructions and changes have been made. The area continues to be a gathering place for people of different cultures and ages, and hosts a wide variety of events and assemblies

Athletic meet, 1913
Credit: New York City Parks Photo Archive