Outdoor ‘Reading Rooms’ Return To Midtown Parks This Summer

Angelito Jusay

May 11, 2021
Nick Garber

MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, NY — The annual outdoor "Reading Rooms" have returned to a pair of Midtown parks in time for summer, marking a return for the popular event after it was suspended last year during the pandemic.

The Reading Rooms will be joined by a number of other free outdoor events at Bryant Park, Herald Square Park and Greeley Square Park, according to the nonprofits that manage all three spaces.

Reading Rooms feature sets of books, magazines and newspapers arranged on outdoor racks, free of charge. They also include presentations by authors, and other occasional special events like "Coffee & Crosswords."

The concept was first brought to Bryant Park in 2003, modeled after an "Open Air Library" launched in 1935 during the Great Depression. Herald Square Park's Reading Room arrived in 2014.

Other outdoor programming coming to Bryant Park this summer includes: Tai Chi classes, birding tours, piano, ribbon dancing, board games, ping-pong and an "Art Cart."

The board games and Art Cart can be found at the Fifth Avenue Terrace behind the library, while ping pong and the Reading Room are on the park's 42nd Street side.

Programming at Greeley includes free dance classes, which began May 4 and continue weekly, as well as free ping-pong tables and games along Broadway Boulevard, adjacent to the park.

"With Midtown returning to normal as the pandemic ebbs, we are seeing increased traffic in our parks," said Dan Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership and executive director of the Bryant Park Corporation, in a news release.

"Providing programs and amenities for visitors has been a keystone in the successful operation of these green spaces for more than 25 years."