Groundbreaking at Seward Park: $6.4 Million Revamp Underway


All smiles this past Friday morning as Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Lower East Side community leaders celebrated the start of a major renovation project at Seward Park.

The historic public space, the oldest municipal playground in the country, is receiving a $6.4 million revamp as part of the city’s “Parks Without Borders” program.  When the project is completed months from now, there will be a new plaza in front of the Seward Park Library, an expanded garden, lowered fencing, new plantings and new perimeter paving.

Friday’s groundbreaking was attended by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council member Margaret Chin, members of Community Board 3 and local community organizers.

There was praise all around for the Seward Park Conservancy, which led a grass roots campaign for city funding.  Before the groundbreaking, Silver noted that he and the mayor came to Seward Park in 2014 to announce his appointment as commissioner. At the time, said Silver, he noticed the high, imposing fencing around the park, and thought the space could be a lot more inviting. Parks Without Borders has since become the commissioner’s pet project.

There is, of course, still lots of work to be done in Seward Park. The conservancy continues to advocate for the renovation of the broken down Schiff Fountain and the reactivation of a community space inside the comfort station.

Celebrate Groundbreaking for Seward Park Renovation Friday Morning


Much of Seward Park has been shrouded in construction fencing in recent weeks, as the city begins a major renovation project there. On Friday morning, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver comes to the Lower East Side to celebrate the groundbreaking.

Seward Park was selected for the mayor’s “Parks Without Borders” program, which is intended to more effectively integrate parks into surrounding communities. Seward was selected in large part due to strong community support during a citywide competition for funding. The $6.4 million project includes new pavement, curbs, benches, game tables, drinking fountains, trees and other plantings.

The groundbreaking will take place 9 a.m. Friday at East Broadway and Essex streets. Community members are encouraged to attend. RSVP to or by calling 212-408-0111.  For more information, visit the Seward Park Conservancy, which led the grass roots campaign to refurbish the park.

Read our previous coverage here.

“Singin’ in the Rain” Tuesday Night in Seward Park


it’s been a soggy summer in New York, so maybe it’s appropriate that tomorrow night’s film in Seward Park is the 1952 classic, Singin’ in the Rain.

The movie gets underway at dusk. Bring your own chair or blanket, and a picnic. Popcorn will be provided by the Metrograph movie theater, which is sponsoring the film along with the Seward Park Conservancy and Henry Street Settlement.

Cloudy skies in the forecast for tomorrow evening, but at the moment, thunderstorms aren’t expected to roll in until later in the night.

Here’s the Remaining Schedule For “Round Robin” Studio in Seward Park

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Earlier this month we told you about the ArtBuilt Mobile Studio in Seward Park, which is featuring a trilingual newspaper project called Round Robin. Through Aug. 15, local artists Sue Jeong Ka and Mélissa Emily Liu are hosting open studio hours and a variety of workshops. The organizers just passed on a bit of information about the upcoming programs. Here’s their invitation to the community:

Join Art Parley, ArtBuilt Mobile Studio in the Park’s artists-in-residence in Seward Park (in front of the library), for the last few weeks of free events and workshops this summer. Neighbors in the Lower East Side, Chinatown, and Two Bridges are invited to take part in a creative forum and conversations around immigration, neighborhood change, and cultural heritage which will inspire contents for a new issue of their trilingual newspaper to be published in Fall 2018. Through their Round Robin community newspaper headquarters in the mobile studio, artists, organizers, organizations and groups, and neighbors from communities around the park have been sharing their work and stories through free programs for kids, families, and adults. All are welcome to participate, through creative activities that include art, performance, writing, and storytelling. From now until August 15! For more information and a detailed program schedule of events, please visit

On Facebook, flyers are available in English, Spanish and Chinese. The project is a collaboration among ArtBuilt, NYC Parks, Queens Museum, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Immigrant Social Services, and Seward Park Conservancy. Support was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Surdna Foundation, and The New York Community Trust.



Artists Invited to Apply For Community-Focused Residency in Seward Park


If you’re an artist with a passion for community engagement, here’s an opportunity you’ll want to consider.

Applications are now being accepted for Studio in the Park, a six-week residency program located in a 150 square foot mobile studio. This year, one of the studios will be located in Seward Park on the Lower East Side.

The program is a collaboration among ArtBuilt, the Queens Museum and the NYC Parks Department. Local partners this year include the Seward Park Conservancy and Immigrant Social Services.

According to the project page, projects should:

“…serve the diverse immigrant communities that surround the park, which have become threatened by a climate of increasing xenophobia and shifting immigration enforcement.”

“…address ways in which neighborhoods adjacent to park are changing in response to rising rents and property values.”

“…connect with the (often varied) cultural traditions of communities surrounding the park.”

The application deadline is Monday, April 23. More info here.

Wizard of Oz Comes to Seward Park July 15

Seward Park movie night, July 2016.

Seward Park movie night, July 2016.

For a second year, the Seward Park Conservancy, the Metrograph theater and the Henry Street Settlement are partnering for free movies in Seward Park.

The featured presentation coming up on Saturday, July 15 is the Wizard of Oz. The film begins, as you might have guessed, at dusk (8:30ish). In the summer of 2016, people began to gather in the park pretty early, so you’ll want to keep that in mind. You’ll want to bring a blanket or folding chairs.

The Metrograph will be providing free popcorn.


Seward Park Conservancy Hosts Fundraiser Jan. 26

Seward Park, October 2016.

Seward Park, October 2016.

Some noticeable improvements will be coming to Seward Park in the next couple of years thanks to a $6.4 million infusion from the city’s Parks Without Borders Program. The Seward Park Conservancy wants to build on the momentum from the project (who wants to see the restoration of the Schiff Fountain on Essex Street?!)

Coming up on Thursday, Jan. 26, the organization will be hosting a fundraiser in support of its mission. You’ll be able to meet the board of directors, learn about upcoming park projects and show your support ofor this historic public space. Tickets are $35. Click here for more details.

Public Input Session For Seward Park Renovations Takes Place Nov. 14

Renderings by: Studio Castellano for Seward Park Conservancy.

Renderings by: Studio Castellano for Seward Park Conservancy.

You’ll want to save the date — Nov. 14 — for a Seward Park public visioning session. This past spring, the Lower East Side park was one of eight winners in the city’s Parks Without Borders competition. The award recipients will be splitting $40 million for renovations to widely used public spaces. The local campaign, spearheaded by the Seward Park Conservancy, was focused on improvements to the area in front of the Seward Park Library, the dilapidated fountain on Essex Street and Straus Square, on the park”s southern boundary. A location is not yet set for the public input event. We’ll let you know when we have more information.

Summer Movies in Seward Park: The Wizard of Oz is Tonight

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 11.06.43 AM

During the summer months, the Seward Park Conservancy, Metrograph Theater and Henry Street Settlement are teaming up for special outdoor screenings. The first one is coming up Tuesday, July 12, when The Wizard of Oz comes to the park. Admission is free and there will also be free popcorn. Screenings start at dusk.

If you can’t wait until the 12th, the Metrograph is definitely getting into the summer spirit. Movies scheduled in the Ludlow Street theaters over the long holiday weekend include: Dog Day Afternoon (Friday), Summer of Sam (Sunday) and Do the Right Thing (Monday, July 4). You can see the full schedule here.

Renderings: One Vision of An Improved Seward Park

Renderings from: Seward Park Conservancy.

Renderings from: Seward Park Conservancy.

Seward Park, home of America’s first municipal playground, has a lot going for it. But could it be improved? Members of the Seward Park Conservancy say, “Yes!” This is why they’re pushing hard for new city funding through a competition called Parks Without Borders.

Last week, officials with the Parks Department came to Community Board 3’s Parks Committee meeting to help local residents envision how the public space could be transformed. The $40 million NYC initiative is meant to enhance the connections between local parks and surrounding communities. Through the elimination of high fences, the renovation of adjacent spaces and other design innovations, “Parks Without Borders” seeks to improve accessibility.

seward park map

seward park/straus square

A new vision for Staus Square.

The Seward Park Conservancy was at the meeting in force, encouraging locals to vote for Seward Park in an online poll. They also passed out a brochure to get people thinking about what might be possible; the renderings included here are just ideas, nothing official. If the Lower East Side is chosen, the Parks Department will return to the community board for a full-scale visioning session. In the brochure, the conservancy suggested:

–Transforming the plaza in from of the public library, greening the space and offering accessibility to the rest of the park.

–Renovating Straus Square on East Broadway, creating a new gateway to the park and removing fencing.

–Revitalizing the promenade along Essex Street, including the broken-down Schiff Fountain.

If you would like to vote for Seward Park, follow this link. You have until Feb. 28. The Parks Department hopes to announce the winning projects in the spring.


There’s Still Time to Vote For Seward Park in “Parks Without Borders” Competition

seward park fountain

Seward Park border along Essex Street. File photo.

As the temperature dips below freezing this week, recreating in Seward Park might not be the first thing on your mind. But it is, in fact, a very  good time to stay focused on improvements in the historic community space. This is because the city will be making some important funding decisions in the weeks ahead that could transform Seward Park.

As we reported last month, the Parks Department has launched “Parks Without Borders,” a $50 million initiative aimed at improving “entrances, edges, and park-adjacent spaces” in eight public green spaces throughout the five boroughs. The funding decisions will be made. in part, based on feedback received from the public. You can weigh in until Feb. 28 via this link.

Last month, Community Board 3 approved a resolution in support of Seward Park. It noted that the park is the only one in Community District 3 eligible based on very specific criteria. The resolution also pointed out that NYC Parks Department officials have already “indicated (that) Seward Park would be an extremely viable candidate for the program.” There will be a presentation on the initiative and a chance for community feedback at CB3’s January Parks Committee meeting. It will be held next week, Thursday the 14th, at the BRC Senior Center, 30 Delancey St., at 6:30 p.m. The Seward Park Conservancy is urging local residents to attend as a show of support for funding on the Lower East Side.

Parks Department officials have said at least one park in each borough would receive funding. The winning locations will be announced in the spring.

For many years, people have criticized the high fencing around Seward Park, which makes access difficult from Essex Street. Park advocates have talked about new landscaping and seating in front of the Seward Park Library, located just to the east of the park. There’s also been talk about improvements at nearby Straus Square on East Broadway and reactivating a building within the park now used to store maintenance equipment.

The Parks Without Borders website is a bit cumbersome. If you would like to nominate Seward Park, check out this “how-to” guide from the Seward Park Conservancy.


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Q&A: Seward Park Conservancy Holds Saturday Event, Plants Seeds For Future

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