Until the 1960s, this section of Lower Manhattan was the site of struggling small businesses, busy commuter ferry docks and dilapidated shipping piers. When the World Trade Center was being built, more than one million cubic yards of earth and rocks were excavated, moved across West Street and dumped here to create 92 acres of landfill. The newly-created area became a massive business and residential development known as Battery Park City.
The most attractive features of this prosperous planned community are the small harbor and 70 foot wide Esplanade along the Hudson River. The riverfront walkway contains rows of trees, beds of shrubbery, low iron fences, benches, lampposts and several significant pieces of public art.
If you were to walk south from the World Financial Center Plaza (about mid-point along the Esplanade), you’d soon come to the Upper Room. Created by Ned Smyth in 1987, the Upper Room stands at the corner where Albany Street meets the Esplanade.
In summer, when temperatures soar, the Upper Room will be shaded by nearby trees and filled with visitors. Early spring, before the branches burst into bloom, is the perfect time to see the Middle East-inspired details of this red-hued colonnaded court built of pebbled concrete, bluestone, brass and mosaic.