Hidden waterfalls in the tiny parks of Turtle Bay

New York has lots of lovely pocket parks that offer a hideaway from urban life.

But the stretch of East Midtown known by its wonderfully pastoral 17th century name, Turtle Bay, seems to have more of these patches of green than other neighborhoods.


Even better, many of these parks have cascading waterfalls that drown out urban noise and heat and leaves us feeling calm and soothed. No need to head to Central Park for a waterfall fix—these do the trick.

Paley Park (top photo), on 53rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues (not technically Turtle Bay but close) has a back-lit waterfall, along with ivy-covered walls and locust trees. Financed by a foundation set up by William Paley, former chairman of CBS, it’s attracted quiet crowds since 1967.


Carved out of a space surrounded by modern apartment buildings and old-school tenements is Greenacre Park, above, created by a foundation organized by a Rockefeller family member in 1971.

The park is designed to be such a break from urban life, photography isn’t allowed (but no one will stop you from taking pictures from the street).


If the park with this circular wall of water has a name, I missed it. Wouldn’t it be lovely to live in the blue-purple house, with the sight and sound of falling water accessible from your terrace?


Across the street from the United Nations on 47th Street and First Avenue is lush, secluded St. Mary’s Garden, part of Holy Family Roman Catholic Church.

It’s hard to see the benches and walkways along the sides, as well as the small waterfall that feeds into the pond on the left.

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7 Responses to “Hidden waterfalls in the tiny parks of Turtle Bay”

  1. Ted Says:

    some of these urban oasis were required by the city before granting a building permit for the attached highriseq

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    thanks–I kind of suspected that, considering how many newish residential towers there are on those side streets.

  3. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    I worked at Doubleday Bookstore on the corner of 53rd & 5th in the late 1960s. That was always my spot to take a break from the job and smoke a joint as the waterfall was falling down. Very like being in the country surrounded by buildings but hell in those years everyone was smoking grass. Still my favorite waterfall is off 6th Ave between 46th & 47th, not sure of the streets. it’s a waterfall into a glass tunnel that walk into with the water falling on each as you pass through. A freaky experience.

  4. P. Gavan Says:

    When I worked in the city in 2002-03, I used to eat my lunch at Paley Park at least once a week. I found it one day while exploring the neighborhood — no smoking of any kind in 2002!

  5. beforemybigbreak Says:

    I shot part of a film here. I Love it!

  6. Joe R Says:

    I’m fairly certain that Paley Park is on the site of the once famous Stork Club. From the 30’s to the 50’s it was probably the most fashionable nightclub in town.

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