East Meadow and Reservoir Landscapes

The area that includes the East 96th Street and Bendheim playgrounds is characterized by its proximity to two important Park landscapes: the Reservoir and the East Meadow. While geographically close to these destinations, the playgrounds feel somewhat disconnected from them due to the presence of the 96th Street Transverse Road and the constrained path circulation around it. The East 96th Street Playground is located near the northeastern corner of the Reservoir. Bounded by the East Drive, Fifth Avenue, and the transverse road, the playground seems cut off from its surroundings. Bendheim Playground, located at 100th Street, is much more integrated with the adjacent Park, which offers a variety of play opportunities. The playground is adjacent to the East Meadow, the largest unprogrammed lawn in the northern part of the Park. A large, bowl-shaped lawn surrounded by rock outcroppings and some of the Park’s oldest trees, it is well-used for picnics and other gatherings. School groups often visit to play sports and engage in social play. The meadow, with its expansive views of the West Side skyline, contrasts with the rocks, trees, and hillier terrain to the north, which accommodate more intimate gatherings. Its recent restoration included the construction of three clay ovals discreetly sited in the landscape around the meadow to accommodate all-weather play by school groups. The Reservoir lies just south of the East Meadow. At 106 acres, it is the largest water body in the Park and a popular destination for the families and school groups who often pause there to observe the sky, views, and waterfowl.