Sit your ass down—new website tracks NYC's nicest seats on streets

Check out the profusion of community benches built around tree pits, and find a spot near you to park it. Plus, we've listed our favorite places to take the weight off.

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  • Photograph: Martha Weller; courtesy StreetSeats.org

    Tree pit bench outside Communitea (47-02 Vernon Blvd at 47th Ave, Long Island City, Queens)

  • Photograph: Alyssa Kogan; courtesy StreetSeats.org

    Tree pit bench outside Darna Falafel (200 Court St at Wyckoff St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn)

  • Photograph: Alyssa Kogan; courtesy StreetSeats.org

    Tree pit bench outside LA Burrito (287 Bedford Ave between 1st and Grand Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

  • Photograph: Alyssa Kogan; courtesy StreetSeats.org

    Tree pit bench outside An Nhau (172 Bedford Ave between North 7th and 8th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

  • Photograph: Mike Lydon; courtesy StreetSeats.org

    Tree pit bench outside Choice Greene (214 Greene Ave between Cambridge Pl and Grand Ave, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn)

Photograph: Martha Weller; courtesy StreetSeats.org

Tree pit bench outside Communitea (47-02 Vernon Blvd at 47th Ave, Long Island City, Queens)


Have you ever noticed the plethora of bespoke benches and seats around New York, built around tree pits or outside stores? No, neither have we, to be honest.

But Mike Lydon, of urban planning and design firm the Street Plans Collaborative (streetplans.org), has. Upon relocating to NYC in 2009, he was struck by the number of street seats, and having a job that took him to cities around the world, he realized that New York stood apart in that regard. "[They're] very informal, but they're everywhere—it's just one of these great things that makes New York unique," says Lydon. One of those things that makes NYC the greatest city in the damn world, say we.

To celebrate these small acts of citizenry that make the urban environment a little more livable, Lydon has created an open source map at streetseats.org to document these sittin' spots. If you know of one, submit it for inclusion here. Check out the map below, and keep scrolling for info on a mapping party, plus some of our favorite bum rests.


A mapping party—in conjunction with Neighborland (neighborland.com) and the local chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (cnunewyork.org)—is also in the works for April 6 (meet at the southwest subway tunnel entrance in Union Square; 1pm, free). Attendees will meet up in the afternoon, then fan out across the city to find, log and photograph more examples of benches. The group will gather in a bar (TBA) that evening and share their discoveries. Check the website nearer the time for details.

Lydon picked a few of his favorite spots in the slide show above, and because it reminded us just how much we like sitting down, we pulled together a few of the grander spots around town where we like to park our asses.

The best New York spots for taking the weight off and watching the world go by

  • Photograph: Sarah Theeboom

    Lincoln Center Fountain
    The Revson Fountain is one of those few public spaces in New York that provides a show of dancing water. Josie Robertson Plaza, Columbus Ave between 62nd and 65th Sts

  • Picnic Point on Governors Island
    Swinging seats are one of our favorite things (and there are legitimate swings in this area—we know, we spent an afternoon on them), and the ones on Picnic Point include views of Lady Liberty.

     

  • Photograph: courtesy Central Party Conservancy

    Charles B. Stover bench in Central Park
    There are many great places to sit in Olmsted and Vaux's Manhattan idyl, but we're partial to this long, gently curved whispering bench above the Shakespeare Garden. The design conducts sound along its length, so two people can sit on either end of the bench and mumur sweet nothings to eachother; or horrifying, unspeakable things, things that make your hair go white, stomach churn and loins shrivel. West side between 79th and 80th Sts, enter at Central Park West and 72nd St

  • Tenth Avenue Square on the High Line
    The elevated park is another spot with ample options for parking your tuchus—the 23rd Street Lawn and Seating Steps, the radial bench, or the 26th Street Viewing Spur with the playful viewing frame, for instance—but we love these bleachers with a view of Tenth Avenue traffic whizzing underneath. Tenth Ave at W 12th St, enter at Tenth Ave and 14th St

  • Bryant Park's green chairs
    In 1992, this once crime-ridden green space reopened to the public after a dramatic redesign and renovation. One of the major changes was the addition of the moveable lawn seating and the chairs have become evocative of the rejuvenated space. Also, they held a mass game of musical chairs with them last summer; a good a reason as any for inclusion on this list. Sixth Ave between 40th and 42nd Sts

  • Sutton Place Park bench, as seen in Manhattan
    Though the bench that supported Woody Allen and Diane Keaton is no longer there, you can view the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, spanning the East River, as the pair did in the 1979 flick Manhattan. E 58th St at East River

  • Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith

    Brooklyn Promenade
    Sure, strolling's nice, but take a seat on one of the benches strewn with couples to take in the magnificent view of lower Manhattan. Columbia Heights between Middagh and Montague Sts, Brooklyn Heights

  • Photograph: courtesy Theater Development Fund

    On the roof of the TKTS Booth in Times Square
    Although they've added chairs and tables to the pedestranized parts of the crossroads of the world, we're not keen on using them—one shout of "It's Justin Bieber!" and we imagine ourselves flattened by the stampede of tourists. That's why we enjoy rising above the fray and watching the mouthbreathers and neckcraners from the red benches above the discount theater ticket booth. Duffy Square, 47th Street and Broadway

  • Photograph: Hisland7

    View south from the TKTS Booth in Times Square

  • The steps of the Met
    It doesn't matter how busy it is, you can always find a space to rest your tired dogs from a mammoth session at this museum. It's much like the best stoop ever. Speaking of which... 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St

  • Any stoop ever
    You know this to be true.

Photograph: Sarah Theeboom

Lincoln Center Fountain
The Revson Fountain is one of those few public spaces in New York that provides a show of dancing water. Josie Robertson Plaza, Columbus Ave between 62nd and 65th Sts


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