Collect Pond to Live Again


Here’s a tantalizing look at what’s to come at Collect Pond Park. Bordered by Lafayette, Centre, the New York City Civil Court (or what would be Franklin if it went through), and a parking lot, it’s one of the grimmest public areas in Lower Manhattan. The full renovation, funded by the LMDC, is set to start in July, 2010, and is projected to last a year.

The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center sets the plan up with a little prospective: “Collect Pond Park occupies the 18th-century site of Collect Pond, a large, 60-foot-deep pool fed by an underground spring. During the first decade of the 19th century, the polluted, plague-inducing Collect Pond was filled in and the area has since been home to public executions, a house of detention, and a section of the notorious Five Points slum.” So  if you take the long view, it’s not such a dump these days.


Click to enlarge

“In stark contrast to this somewhat unsavory history, park designers envision the new park as both a sunny lunch spot and a reminder of Manhattan’s densely wooded past. The park will be surrounded by shade trees, with a large lawn in the center of the lot and tables along the northern and eastern edges. At the south end of the space, where the parking lot now sits, the Parks Department will place thick beds of ferns and other woodland plants. Water misters will be imbedded in the plantings, making the surrounding air feel wetter and cooler. The park will be enclosed by a four-foot fence and lampposts and will be locked at night.”

In other words: (1) The new park will reclaim the huge chunk of the block that’s currently a parking lot, extending the border down to Leonard Street; (2) the homeless population that takes over at night will be fenced out. And misters will be deployed to make the air “wetter and cooler”—but aren’t New York summers humid enough? A quibble in what promises to be a revelatory makeover.



  1. When complete and the homeless cannot access the park area anymore, Should we be concerned that more homeless will flock to the Columbus Park Pavilion at night and use that Pavilion as their night home/shelter.

  2. James Madison Park just South of One Police Plaza, a small triangular patch of boring concrete was taken over by the NYPD as a parking lot after 9/11/01. it took community activists and a law suit to remove the NYPD from what was formerly a NYC public Park, albeit a concrete patch, but still a park.
    After gathering some community members for a wish list of what they’d like to see at the park once its renovated, the NYC Parks dept. promised we’d see trees, a fountain, benches, way finding signs, landscaping……(all the features that are listed above for Collect Pond) that was three YEARS ago and not even a pebble has moved since then on that spot where I stood with my community listening to the glorious plans in store for James Madison Park.
    Year after year we wait, and all we get are promises.
    Yes, it’s lovely to see Collect Pond renovated but one has to wonder where the City’s priorities lay………. Is Chinatown being punished for suing the City and NYPD to get its park back? give us a reason to think otherwise.