Reservoir Square was later renamed in 1878 Bryant Park to honor the recently deceased poet and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post, William Cullen Bryant. Around the same time, plans were approved for the New York Public Library, which was later completed in 1911 with two comfort stations located near the east end of Bryant Park. The north half of the park was closed throughout the 1920s due to the construction of the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) subway tunnel along 42nd Street. In 1934, there was a contest to redesign the park, with the winning submission including a classical scheme of a large central lawn, formal pathways, and an oval plaza containing the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain at the west end.
In 1974, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the park as a scenic landmark. Although the park was a prime spot for crime and drug trafficking in the 1970s, but by the 1990s all the crime and traffickers were gone and lunchtime head counts averaged around 4,000. In the summer of 1988, numerous renovation projects that included new entrances, restaurant pavilions, and concession kiosks were introduced and completed in stages by the 1990s. Bryant Park then reopened in April 1992 to praise from citizens, media, and urbanists.
Bryant Park Today
Modern-day Bryant Park, though less than ten acres in size, offers a wide range of activities and features. There are a formal lawn and gardens with promenades, and the park attracts over 120 species of birds. There's an outdoor reading room (created during the Great Depression by the New York Public Library); the Art Cart, which offers free art supplies and classes; restaurants and food kiosks; and games and game social events including chess, backgammon, and other table and park games. In the winter, the park is transformed into the Winter Village, with an ice skating rink and holiday shops. Park events include tai chi, yoga, juggling, fencing, Shakespeare and piano performances, poetry recitations, and tours.
Walking tours include information about the park's history, design, and amenities, and last about 45 minutes each. A free audio tour voiced by Matthew Broderick is also available through both the Bryant Park official website and iTunes. Bird walks are offered in the mornings and afternoons, and 120 species have been spotted so far.