Lower Manhattan has two new public plazas you can chill in

It’s a big deal for New York to get a brand new green space that is open to the public—let alone two different ones on the same day!

Rapkin-Gayle Plaza, at the intersection of Grand and Lafayette Streets, and Manuel Plaza, on East 4th Street between Bowery and Lafayette Street, are officially open to to the public, adding open space to a neighborhood that very much needs it.

For those interested in the destination’s monikers, according to an official press release, Rapkin-Gayle Plaza was named after two important figures in SoHo history: Chester Rapkin and Margot Gayle. The former wrote a study about the neighborhood “that was instrumental to preservation activists” while the latter “led efforts to designate the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District.”

Manuel Plaza, on the other hand, pays tribute to the first North American free Black settlement, known as the Land of the Blacks. “The name honors Big Manuel, Clyn Manuel, Manuel Gerrit de Reus, Manuel Sanders and Manuel Trumpeter, who were among 28 people of African descent who negotiated their freedom from the West India Dutch Company and over 100 acres in land grants in the mid-17th Century in New Netherland,” reads the press release. 

Manuel Plaza
Photograph: NYC Parks/Daniel AvilaManuel Plaza

Both projects received mayoral funding from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in addition to monetary aid from the City Council and the borough president. 

“These new plazas raise the bar for what public space can be in New York City, with a beautiful and creative design, native plants that are both beautiful and ecologically sensitive, and a resilient infrastructure that will protect us from major flood events,” said Manhattan borough president Mark D. Levine in an official statement.

But that’s not all: a third green space funded by the DEP is currently in the design phase at 10th Avenue and west 48th street. According to officials, the park will be named after playwright and writer Lorraine Hansberry.

If you just can’t get enough of the outdoors during the warmer months, check out our list of best NYC parks. Happy summer!

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