Nelson A. Rockefeller Park is located in the city of Battery Park. Nelson A. Rockefeller was the son of John Rockefeller Jr., who built the Rockefeller center. Nelson served four terms as Governor of New York from 1959 to 1973 and was subsequently appointed 41st Vice President of the United States under President Gerald Ford. Battery Park City is the newest neighborhood in New York City. In 1966, Governor Nelson Rockefeller devised a plan to restore the area by using land from the excavation of the World Trade Center site. Battery Park Esplanade is a strip of riverfront parkland and perhaps one of the largest parks in New York City.
The Esplanade is a kind of “super park” with sports courts, playgrounds, and parks, built on the edge of lower Manhattan. Nelson A. Rockefeller Park is located at the northern end of the Esplanade Battery Park. The park combines views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty, a waterfront promenade, a wide green lawn and an open-air permanent art exhibition that is open all year round and frees for everyone. The Real World, American sculptor Tom Otterness, is an odd little universe set up in the playground of Rockefeller Park in 1992.
Jumping into the Hudson River and built on a former landfill on the western edge of Lower Manhattan, this eight-acre park is the largest parcel of the 36-acre park system developed by the Battery Park City Authority. The park was designed by Carr, Lynch, Hack & Sandell and Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, and was bounded by the river to the north and west and by the high-rise development to the east. Opened in 1992, the park offers both active and passive recreation and serves as the northern terminal of the 1,5-mile-long Esplanade.
Divided into upper and lower sections by terraces, the parcel consists of several unique yet interconnected environments. The columned, open-air pavilion designed by architect Demetri Porphyrios, the ball courts and the playground feature a variety of distinct features along the length of the upper terrace. Meandering paths lined with stone walls and benches pass through Tom Otterness’ playful The Real World sculptures and a pedal-powered carousel designed by landscape architects Johansson & Walcavage. To the north, a large area of lawn used for recreation, sunbathing and picnics accommodates a change of grade from the upper terrace to the Esplanade along the river.
Grass and perennial drifts are complemented by rows of pine and maple and oak specimens. At the southern end of the park, the Lily Pond, planted with aquatic grasses and lilies, is surrounded by steep seating and crowned by a balustrade and ornate fountain, attracting migratory birds and park visitors alike.