The city of New York has so many entertainment activities for everyone. No matter if one needs to go to a club, or just be a bit closer to nature by visiting a park, New York City has it all. As a matter of fact, NYC is known for some of the best parks in the USA. Athens Square Park is among one that offers the historical Greek culture of Greece, entertainment, and a chance to be more close to nature with all the peaceful vibes. If you are planning to visit Athens Square Park, the following guidelines and tips would surely help you make the best out of your trip.
Overview of the Athens Square Park
The Athens Square Park is located in the Athens Square area of New York City. The exact address of this park is “30th St & 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11102, United States”. This park got its name from the capital of Greece called Athens. The park has been a representation of Greece with notable cultural elements as well. It has statues of Greek figures, doric columns, a square with an amphitheater, and a playground as well. The Athens Square Park has been a source of attraction for the locals as well as tourists who come to enjoy a perspective of the ancient Greek culture in the modern city of New York.
History of the Athens Square Park
Athens Square Park wasn’t just created like a regular park with all the famous elements of Greek culture. Instead, there is a long history of how this park came into being. During the rule of Pericles in Greece, democracy was introduced. Previously, there wasn’t a proper form of government in the country just like it is in the other parts of the world. However, between 594 and 404 BC, the country flourished in terms of literature, science, philosophy, and arts as well as better forms of government.
This was made possible due to Pericles who made political reforms and took the oath of fealty. Later, this oath was supported by the Mayors of New York Fiorello H. LaGuardia and W. Giuliani. The two decided to transmit the city in a greater and much more beautiful manner as compared to how it was handed to them. For this reason, citizens and the local government unanimously worked together to create the Athens Square Park which was dedicated to Greek cultures and symbolic art figures as well.
Initially, the park was not constructed; rather a school along with a playground was set up in the same area comprising 9 acres in 1963. This school was named Henry David Thoreau School after the famous American philosopher. The park was opened 4 years later in 1967. The park offered a range of physical activities at the time with no major attention to Greek culture. The activities at that time included basketball, volleyball, handball, sandbox, climbing equipment, and different types of picnic tables as well.
The Reconstruction of Athens Square Park – 1990 Onwards
As said, initially, this wasn’t a park dedicated to Athens or Greek culture in any way. However, in 1990, the park was reconstructed with a net figure of $1 million. At this time, it was noticed that the place should be dedicated to the Greek-American population, many of whom lived in New York City at that time. During this period, Athens Square Inc, a community-based group was formed to help in the development and promotion of this park. A proper development plan and redesigning of the park were done. The primary motive behind this reconstruction was to show a part of Athens in New York City.
In the coming years, these plans were put to action and a constant restoration of the park was done. New trees, plants, benches, basketball court redesign, and several other works were done too. In 1993, the statue of Socrates was mounted in the park. This was a clear indication that the park was dedicated to Greek culture.
By 1996, further restoration and development works were done when 3 fluted Doric columns were held up at the Athens Square Park. They were set up right beside the amphitheater. This was done to represent the Tholos of Athena Pronaia in Delphi during the time of 390 – 380 BC. A few safety aspects were also considered in this period which is why proper fencing, surface safety, concrete curbs, and other damaged areas of the park were restored.
By 1998, the Mayor of Athens, Demetris Avramopoulos was quite impressed with Athens Square. He presented a replica of Piraeus Athena to be installed at the park. Further sculptures, and statues, such as the goddess of wisdom of Greece and the statue of Minerva, were handed over to be held up in the Athens Square Park. From time to time, there have been several developments and improvements in the park which now represents a major part of Greek culture as well as the important personalities over there.
Major Monuments at Athens Square Park
With constant developments, the Athens Square Park now has many monuments which are a source of attraction for the tourists.
Bronze Statue of Socrates
Socrates was a Greek Philosopher and has been one of the most influential figures in Greek history. He is mainly credited for posthumous accounts of different classical writers in the form of dialogues. He also brought major western philosophy to Greek culture. The major areas of interest for Socrates were rationalism and ethics. Two of his students, Plato and Xenophon, later, also became popular in Greek philosophy. Socrates was sentenced to death when he was accused of corrupting the youth. Today, Socrates is remembered in golden words and is known to be one of the best philosophical influences of all time.
In Athens Square Park, there is a statue of Socrates. This is a bronze piece that was designed by Anthony Frudakis in 1993 and was installed in Athens Square Park. The statue depicts Socrates engaged in a dialogue in a seated position. This comes from the fact that Socrates wrote many dialogues from different classical writers. This statue is held in the park as an honorable memorial for the Greek-American population. The dimension of this figure is 6-foot height by 4 feet in width by 7 feet 6 inches in depth.
Sculpture of Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who has been a student of Socrates as well. Aristotle was also taught by Plato. Aristotle has notable contributions to Greek culture which include works on biology, poetry, music, psychology, ethics, aesthetics, government, politics, and linguistics. He founded the Peripatetic School of Philosophy. He worked on the philosophy of teachers and helped in further developing the philosophical discussion. For this reason, he stands quite important in the field even today.
In Athens Square Park, there is a small sculpture of Aristotle. It has been made out of a bronze bust and has a granite pedestal. It was donated by The People of Chalkidiki and Athens Square in 2008 to the Athens Square Park.
One of the best monuments in Athens Square Park are the three Doric columns. They have been made of Granite and were an important part of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. There are circular capitals on the top of these columns which is why they can be easily recognized from a distance. At Athens Square Park, there are three Doric columns which are 20 feet wide and 28.3 feet in height. On top of these three Doric columns, there is a curved entablature as well. It has been in Athens Square Park since 1996.
Statue of Athena
The Statue of Athena is one of the most prominent monuments in the Athens Square Park gifted by the people of Greece to New York City. It has been in the park since 1998. The figure has been made out of bronze while the pedestal has been made of green granite. The figure has a height of 7.9 feet while the pedestal has a height of 4.6 feet and a width of 3.4 feet. This statue was presented by Demetris Avramopoulos, Mayor of Athens, to the city of New York in 1998.
Those who don’t know about Athena should know that Athena is the Olympian goddess of wisdom and war. She was the adored patroness of the city of Athens. She has been one of the most influential factors in Greek culture and religion as well. The Piraeus Athena is the name given to the statue of Athens Square Park.
Other Things to do at the Athens Square Park
Apart from the popular monuments mentioned above, one can cycle at Athens Square Park. The vibe in this park is a pleasant and comforting one with not much rush or noise. There is a breakfast truck nearby and people recommend that you get a deli sandwich from this breakfast truck. It is recommended that you visit this park during the daytime as it is not very appealing at night time. Besides, there aren’t many people during the nighttime. You should also visit the statue of Sophocles.
Athens Square Park is one of the best places to visit in New York. Those who have an interest in subjects like culture, philosophy, and socialism would enjoy their day at this park. The Athens Square Park is easy to access and one can even go by train or any other kind of public transport. We recommend you plan an hour or so to have a fun-filled experience at this park.