New York’s New Green Space: Liberty Park

In the last 15 years, New York has seen a vigorous expansion of new or reinvented public spaces. From the High Line to Brooklyn Bridge Park, these re-purposed spaces from their industrial past have proven to be assets to the city’s hunger for space.

Liberty Park is a reinvented space but for a different reason; the events of September 11th.


Liberty Park looking to the west.

When the original World Trade Center was created, the former Austin J. Tobin Plaza was a wide albeit barren space that had more concrete than green. Looking at older photos prior to writing this I realized the missed opportunities of that space but for it’s time it was perhaps the gold standard in modernist design. Simple, rational and spartan.

As a result, Liberty Park has two jobs; one is to provide suitable open space to the people who work, live and visit the Lower Manhattan area and two restore a form of public space that was lost due to 9/11 and the creation of the memorial.

Liberty Park combines the site of two former structures from pre-9/11 Lower Manhattan. The first, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, was the only structure to be destroyed in the 9/11 attacks that was not part of the World Trade Center complex. It also held a separate distinction as the only religious structure to also be destroyed for St. Paul’s Chapel is opposite the site to the est.

The second, the Deutsche Bank Building, had to demolished due to structural damage. I watched over the decade as they slowly demolished the 40-story structure. The three blocks that the two structures existed upon were merged to create a underground parking lot for the new World Trade Center complex.

On top of the parking lot’s entrance is Liberty Park. The park, which opened on June the 30th, was built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and designed by landscape architect Joseph E. Brown. The park, which is approximately one acre, is a much needed portion of green space in an area where there is very little.


Man Looking at the 9/11 Memorial from Liberty Park.

The park overlooks the 9/11 Memorial and the rest of the World Trade Center campus to the north, the former World Financial Center, now called Brookfield Place, to the west and one of my personal favorite skyscraper’s in Lower Manhattan, 1 Wall Street in the east.

The most unique aspect is the living wall. It’s a wall of plants that is 20 feet high and is mix of periwinkle, Japanese spurge, sedge, Baltic ivy, and Winter creeper. The benches are made of what appears to be wood are nice, wide and comfortable to sit on.

On the southwest corner of the park sits the America’s Response Monument, dedicated to the troops who were part of the Special Forces team that were the first to be deployed in Afghanistan. The image of a man on the horse stems from the unique aspect of Afghanistan’s geography. With no suitable way to get across terrain, 12 members were given horses by local tribesman friendly to the U.S.


America’s Response Monument

Despite that only two members knew how to ride a horse, the team accepted the idea and with the assistance of the tribes, they drove the Taliban from the area. The fact that a group of 21st century soldiers, using what was thought to be an outdated form of warfare to defeat an enemy showed the strength and agility of the U.S. military.

The memorial, it should be noted is the first memorial dedicated to members of our special forces that will be open to the public, was dedicated in 2011. It initially was placed at Brookfield Place and then shunted next to the One World Trade Center but behind a construction fence. So I’m thankful that it’s in a better spot.

The view will give visitors a new perspective of the memorial but also give residents a place to get away from the hubbub of the memorial below.

A worthy alternative indeed.




I was 8 years old when 9/11 occurred, so this post which there is a poem below is dedicated to. The story remains the same for me and for others, even if we say it less and less. I also took pictures of the tribute in light, the annual lighting of twin beacons in Lower Manhattan.Which are interspersed with the stanza. Now I’m an amateur at poetry so feel free to call me out of the structure needs tightening. Otherwise read on.


Tribute in Light Memorial as seen from Brooklyn Bridge Park

Tribute in Light Memorial as seen from Brooklyn Bridge Park


In New York, September is remembered

Of that Tuesday morning

When the normal became the abnormal

When sirens pierced the air

Only to be silenced with a veil of dust

As the towers fell

Brave men and women rose to the occasion

Tribute in Light

Tribute in Light in Lower Manhattan, Birds and other flying creatures get stuck so the lights are turned off for their safety


Everything changed after that September

As days turned to months

Months turned to years

That day still resonates as children grow up

As spouses and siblings get older

A pain lingers

Vanishing Halo (Tribute in Light)

Tribute in Light being shut off so Birds can fly out


We remember in our own way

Some with prayer

Others with tears of sorrow or joy

Most congregate

In beaches, or town squares

On lawns, or gardens

On hallowed ground

Tribute in Light Memorial as seen north of the Brooklyn Bridge

Tribute in Light Memorial as seen north of the Brooklyn Bridge


Beams of light shine

Beacons of memory and time

To guide the living

To remember and honor the dead.



Inspired by multiple people as a way to pay tribute to the dead of 9/11, it was “designed by John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian Laverdiere and Paul Myoda with lighting consultant Paul Marantz.” According to the Municipal Art Society. The first one was held on March 11, 2002 and ran for a whole month I remember begging my parents to drive over the Brooklyn Bridge so I could see it.

Since 2003, the Tribute in Light has run every year and is now under the control of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. The beams can mean so many different things to different people that to type them seems excessive. Instead I’ll leave it to architecture critic David Dunlap of the New York Times “No one is telling you what to think. You are merely invited to do so.”

Never Forget