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Sol LeWitt in City Hall Park

Home > New York > Walks
by Joann Jovinelly (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Published September 6th 2011
For a fun, laid-back New York experience, try a stroll through historic City Hall Park and its immediate environs, including Battery Park, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House and National Museum of the American Indian, and the current display of sculptural works by artist Sol Le Witt.
City Hall Park, which is surrounded by the grand architecture of New York's most majestic civic buildings, is bordered on one side by the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Since the seventeenth century, the same land has been used as a pasture, a prison, and a public execution site. The park's western-most boundary is the Native American trail that eventually became Broadway, New York's oldest street.

The current Sol Le Witt exhibit, a comprehensive collection of more than 20 works, was made possible by New York's Public Art Fund. The sculptures are strategically placed throughout the park along with markers that explain how each impacted the artist's life. With no real start or end point, viewers can feel free to stroll at their leisure.

The collection dates from 1965 to 2006 and will be on display through early December 2011. Besides Le Witt's show a few years ago on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibit in City Hall Park marks the first time so many of the artists' works have been shown together in one outdoor space.

After your walk around the park, enjoy lunch or dinner at nearby Taqueria Nixtamalito, an authentic Mexican eatery that serves some of New York's most delicious tacos, tortas, nachos, quesadillas, and five kinds of tamales.

Located between the edge of City Hall Park and the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge, Taqueria Nixtamalito is the perfect spot for dining al fresco. And the prices couldn't be more recession-friendly. For less than $25 one could easily feed a family of four and still have food to take home. Outdoor seating is limited, but there are always plenty of shady spots located inside the park. Come early or late to avoid large crowds of jurors who empty out of adjacent court rooms throughout the afternoon on weekdays. For a healthier take on the taco, try the delicious steak variety shown here.

While downtown, ramble around the area to nearby historic sites, such as the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House, which is open to the public all year and free of charge. Besides being a national historic treasure, the first three floors house the National Museum of the American Indian, which is also free and open every day. The majestic building dates back to 1907 and was designed by famed American architect Cass Gilbert.

VIsitors to the area may then head to other nearby sites of interest, such as the New York Stock Exchange, the rebuilt World Trade Center site, or Battery Park along the waterfront. Besides the obvious historical value of such an excursion, Lower Manhattan is known for having more public sculptures than in any other part of the city, most of them permanent, such as this one by French master Jean Dubuffet.


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Why? To rediscover Lower Manhattan
When: Daily
Where: City Hall Park, Lower Manhattan
Cost: Free
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