The new and upgraded Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza is quickly taking shape in the Financial District. The project combines two underutilized concrete plazas and merges them together to form a singular green public space that measures about two-thirds of an acre. George Vellonakis is the landscape architect of the property, which sits on what used to be a neighborhood called Little Syria. The park is named after the late Downtown Alliance president Elizabeth Berger, who died in 2013.
The entire perimeter has been sealed off with construction barriers and fences. The diagonally oriented road that once cut through has been removed and is being filled in with gravel and rocks. Several trees have been saved and will be part of the new green landscape along the edges of the park, which is being extended on two sides by eight feet. Access to the 1 train is still available at the southern tip of the property via a narrow makeshift pathway.
The photo below is looking south toward Rector Street.
The old plazas lacked landscaping and their only greenery was the cluster of trees rising up from the pavement. The parks were difficult to access due to the nature of the crosswalks bisecting one of the exit roads of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, and the redundant staircases to the 1 train caused some confusion for tourists. The previous conditions can be seen in the below photo, which was taken in the first half of 2018.
The new park will include more seating, an elliptical-shaped mound of grass, drinking fountains, decorative bands of granite pavement that complement the curved nature of the park, a low-rise stone wall that separates the walkways and shrubbery, and four new crosswalks to ensure safer pedestrian access. The proposed asphalt blocks should begin installation following the reconfiguration of the subterranean sewer lines, water lines, and expanded boundaries. The planting and landscaping should then commence once the weather warms up.
Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza is expected to be finished in August.