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Home > Water Fountain Information > Waterfalls in New York City -- Paley Park

Waterfalls in New York City -- Paley Park

Vest Pocket Park Features Enormous Waterwall

The waterfall at New York City’s Paley Park, a twenty-foot high and forty-foot long cascading waterfall, gushes 1800 gallons per minute. The water fountain creates a backdrop of sound that causes city noise to fade away. Located at 53rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, the park inspired a proliferation of similar “vest pocket” parks in New York City. Vest pocket parks often feature water fountains which produce white noise to counter the sounds of the city. Paley Park’s cascading wall of water encompasses the entire rear wall of the clever space, providing a dramatic focal point and beckoning pedestrians to enter. The rushing sound of the water fountain blocks out the din of Midtown Manhattan, creating a sense of quiet and privacy. Irregularly set stones slow foot traffic inside the park, and the other two walls are covered in dense green ivy, forming “vertical gardens”. Seventeen slim, tall, honey locust trees provide an elegant thin canopy overhead. The calming, classic combination of nature and water inspires visitors to engage in the environment and make return visits.

Robert Lewis Zion, who designed Manhattan’s Paley Park, worked with I.M.Pei before starting his own firm in 1957. Zion’s firm, Zion and Breene Associates, created the park for the William S Paley Foundation. The park is celebrated as one of the prime examples of a successful privately owned public space, proving that small urban lots can serve as a both a popular meeting ground and a place for retreat and relaxation. The area is a mere 4200 square feet, with movable tables and chairs, and reasonably priced, specially selected food for sale, details that complete the highly functional design. Developed and paid for by William Paley, former Chairman of CBS, Mr. Paley was involved in all aspects of planning the park, from its conception to the selection of the specifically chosen, reasonably priced hot dog which is still sold there today. The park is highly popular with local students on weather-permitting days, where they can be found congregating for the study space and the famous hot dogs.

It is not widely known, nor noted anywhere inside the park, that this landmark oasis of peace is what became of New York City’s famed Stork Club, former occupant of the address.

Paley Park served as a model for Manhattan’s popular Greenacre Park, located on 51st Street between 3rd and 2nd Avenues. Greenacre Park also features a 25 foot high cascading waterfall encompassing the rear wall. The fountain is flanked by landscaped trees and plantings, an outdoor café, and shady arbors, making the most of its small size. Greenacre Park was built in 1971 by the Greenacre Foundation.

Zion designed the prototype for the park for the 1963 Architectural League exhibition, with the final design created in 1967. Later projects of Robert Zion include Cincinnati Riverfront Park, IBM World Headquarters, and the landscape for Liberty Island.

Paley Park is featured in William H. Whyte’s film "City Places, City Spaces."

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Waterfalls in New York City -- Paley Park