Located at the intersections of Laight, Canal, and Varick streets in Manhattan, the park opened two years ago and is where hundreds of firefighters and law enforcement officials staged their rescue and recovery efforts during and following the destruction of the World Trade Center, just a few blocks away. At the time of 9-11, the triangle that is now Capsouto Park was an asphalt parking lot. Since it was the closest spot to Ground Zero that the public could access, many people came there and placed cards, letters, flowers, and mementos.
Last year, the park was officially named for and dedicated to Albert Capsouto, a devoted and beloved member of the community, long-time member of its Community Board, and owner of Capsouto Freres Bistro. He was instrumental in neighborhood rezoning, which helped to spur revitalization. He also worked tirelessly to ensure federal assistance for retailers and small businesses after they were impacted by 9-11. Capsouto passed away in January 2010 at the age of 53.
New York City Parks Capital Designer Gail Wittwer-Laird and SoHo artist Elyn Zimmerman incorporated contemporary art and detailing into the park’s design, while paying homage to the structure and layout of some of Manhattan’s other pocket parks. The park includes plantings and contemporary benches around wide walkways, and as its centerpiece, a 114-foot long sculptural fountain designed by Zimmerman. The overall design won an Excellence in Design award from the New York City Public Design Commission in 2007.
The $3.4 million park was funded by a $2.4 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, allocated by the Lower Manhattan Development Commission; a $500,000 contribution from the Paul and Irma Milstein Foundation; and $556,000 from the Office of the Mayor. PLANET will assist with funding maintenance on the park for the next four years.
PLANET (landcarenetwork.org) is the association of members who create and maintain the QUALITY OF LIFE in communities across America. With approximately 3,500 member companies and affiliates, these firms and their employees represent more than 100,000 green industry professionals. Some of these professionals have taken the extra step of becoming certified through PLANET and bear the distinction of being known as Landscape Industry Certified.