It's not exactly an obvious location but it's one that everyone in New York City should be looking for if they need an escape from the hustle and bustle. Central Park might be the largest green area in the city but there's one that smaller in size, yet grander in its oasis vibe: The Elevated Acre.
That's right, an entire rooftop space that's solely devoted to all things botanicals, peace, and tranquility. This garden is an entirely unexpected rooftop find in the middle of the Financial District but it's also one that has brought plenty of quiet moments to those in need of a break. Manhattan might be the heart of the city that never sleeps, but that doesn't mean it also needs to be the city that never relaxes... And this rooftop garden is the perfect place to do just that.
A Perfectly Quiet Garden Atop A Roof
The Elevated Acre is a truly brilliant addition to Manhattan's otherwise chaotic streets, and it's not the easiest to find (more about that later). The entire building atop which this garden sits was designed by Emery Roth & Sons during the 1970s. Don't be fooled, though - the garden that can be found at the top of this building has not been there for decades. In fact, it wasn't until permission was granted to add more stories to skyscrapers by the city that the thought even occurred. Since buildings could have levels added as long as they included a public plaza, the design that makes up the garden now was introduced in 2005 by Ken Smith and Rogers Marvel Architects. It was these two (which are now two separate firms) who also designed Mill Park Pond in the Bronx, the McCarren Park Pool in Greenpoint, and Constitution Gardens in Washington D.C. Therefore, you know the design for The Elevated Acre was bound to be spectacular.
So spectacular, in fact, that the architects won an international competition with The Elevated Acre design. Set against the challenge to turn a concrete paradise into an actual paradise, they rose to the challenge and produced one of the most unique, and secluded, park-like spaces in Manhattan outside of Central Park. According to an interview with the developers by Untapped, Richard Roth said, 'The upper plaza was originally designed to connect over the FDR to housing to be built in the water on landfill. This project never went forward probably because the city could not find either the money or a developer.'
What Can You Do At The Elevated Acre?
Although the space doesn't have the sheer size of many others, that hasn't stopped it from hosting a whole slew of activities and events. For starters, it's the home of the dances performed at the River to River Festival, among other things. Outdoor movie nights and weddings are also permitted in the park and can be booked in advance. Outside of major and community events, The Elevated Acre is simply a space for people to convene and enjoy some fresh air at great heights. The elevation allows for plenty of peaceful quiet time away from the honking of cars and typical traffic that often plagues this part of the city, while the green space is perfect for taking lunch or having breakfast. It's also home to Sky55, a restaurant that can be found in the same building.
The Elevated Acre is also home to an amphitheater that encircles the green space in the middle, as well as a boardwalk - made of Brazilian hardwood, no less - that allows for incredible skyline views. From this overlook, the East River and Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and Brooklyn Waterfront can be seen.
From the ground level on FDR Drive, the building features LED lights that signal its presence to anyone driving into the city. To say it's a brilliant addition to the city skyline would, at best, be an understatement. From 30 feet over the East River, there's really no place quite like The Elevated Acre anywhere else in New York City.
Getting To The Elevated Acre And Additional Information
- Open: 7 AM - 10 PM daily, May 1st - September 30th / 8 AM - 8 PM daily, October 1st - April 30th (with the exception of events)
- Cost: Free
- Address: 55 Water Street, Manhattan / The entrance can be found tucked between two other buildings, and the escalator will bring visitors up to the top. There, park benches and seating can be found throughout the park, and outside food and drink are permitted.