Sara D. Roosevelt Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:Canal Street and Chrystie Street, Manhattan, NY
Hours:Dawn to 1 A.M. daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: South end of Hester Street Playground; north end of Lion’s Playground
Water/Snacks: Water fountains throughout park and at playgrounds; vendors on surrounding streets

Canal Street offers a bustling urban walk through Chinatown, making the beautiful gardens and well-themed playgrounds of Sara D. Roosevelt Park all the more delightful.

Looking from Canal Street into Sara D. Roosevelt Park.
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson

Some destinations pull you back in time, others bring you to a different landscape; visiting Chinatown is like experiencing another country. With borders currently defined as Grand, Allen, Worth, and Lafayette streets (north, east, south, and west, respectively), Manhattan’s Chinatown is home to one of the highest concentrations of Chinese people in the western hemisphere. We refer to the borders as “current” because Chinatown shows no signs of stopping its expansion.

Canal Street is the spine of Chinatown. Though a walk down Canal may at times feel like wading against a powerful current, no matter which direction you’re heading, it is the only way to truly experience the neighborhood’s vibrancy. As you leave the subway station heading east, you will pass an eclectic array of shops selling everything from used cell phone rechargers to incense, pickled eel, diamond rings, golden Buddhas, herbal remedies, and more. The clog of automobile traffic in the streets will make you feel grateful you are using your two feet.

Sara D. Roosevelt Park (named for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mother) starts at the intersection of Canal and Chrystie streets. This 7.8-acre park is made up of land acquired by the city in 1929 to widen Chrystie and Forsythe streets and build low-cost housing. In New Deal spirit, the plan was revamped to provide an inner-city idyll for parents and kids. The park is laid out around two playgrounds—Hester Street and Lion’s. Before visiting the playgrounds, walk four blocks north to the intersection with Delancey Street to view the Hua Mei Bird Garden. In this space, local bird owners gather to display their fine feathered friends, a practice that is common in China.

Remember: Don’t miss the foot-activated xylophone at the Hester Street Playground.

Plan B:

Tompkins Square Park, which also has great playgrounds, is located two blocks east and five blocks north of the northern end of the park.


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