Essex Street Entrance to Seward Park Reopened for the First Time in a Decade
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Behold! The Essex Street entrance to Seward Park is now back open to the public. Those iron gates had been locked during park hours for nearly fifteen years straight.
One local viewpoint blames the perennially padlocked gates on the park’s former function as needle den for junkies. It had kept druggies out of the playground while protecting children from running into the main thoroughfare of Essex Street. But it’s really beyond that…
An area resident recalls that the lockup actually happened in the aftermath of 9/11, when Seward Park was shut for a $1.56 million makeover courtesy of Mayor Giuliani and Councilmembers Kathryn Freed and Margarita López. Prior to that revamp, pedestrians could enter the park via Essex Street. Upon reopening a year later, though, the entrance was chained shut. Green seekers were instead funneled through East Broadway; closing time of dusk was also instated.
Guess it’s now considered safe enough to unlock. As of this month, folks can now pass completely through Seward Park without having to walk around.
“The Parks Department has recently altered its policy allowing a gate along Essex Street to be open during hours when the park is open,” Linda Jones of the Seward Park Conservancy tells us. “People figured it out right away and are enjoying the walk through the park.” Nevertheless, we have no firm confirmation from Parks on whether the change is permanent. Our messages go unheeded.
Founded in 1903, Seward Park is the oldest municipal playground in the United States.