Fort Tryon Park is the Happiest Spot in Manhattan, Study Finds

By Nigel Chiwaya on August 22, 2013 6:03pm 

 A new study from the New England Complex Systems Institute shows that Fort Tryon Park is the happiest spot in Manhattan.
A new study from the New England Complex Systems Institute shows that Fort Tryon Park is the happiest spot in Manhattan.
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Flickr/Ricardo Zappala

HUDSON HEIGHTS — It's not the biggest or most well-known place in Manhattan, but a new study found that Hudson Heights' Fort Tryon Park is the happiest place in the entire borough.

That's the conclusion of "Sentiment in New York," a report by researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, Mass., that set out to track public emotion around the five boroughs.

Analyzing Twitter posts over a two-week period in April 2012, the researchers were able to pinpoint which spots brought New Yorkers joy and which ones brought them frustration.

The results showed that New Yorkers are happiest when they're in or close to parks, such as Central Park, the New York Botanical Garden and Astoria Park. Conversely, transportation hubs such as the Holland Tunnel, Penn Station and JFK airport brought out the most sadness in residents.

"It is very surprising how precisely we can learn about emotions from this process," said Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of NECSI and one of the study's conductors. "It's quite remarkable that we can see clearly emotions in a way that make sense; that in fact that people are happy in parks and frustrated at traffic jams and at hospital and cemeteries."

While Bar-Yam said researchers had a clue that happiness would be high near parks, they didn't go hunting for Twitter posts to prove their point. Instead, they found areas with strong happiness levels and searched to see what was nearby.

Bar-Yam was surprised to see a strong area of negative emotion in the middle of Brooklyn. However, the sentiment made sense when the spot was revealed to be the polluted Maspeth Creek.

And the happiest spot in Manhattan? That honor goes to Hudson Heights Fort Tryon Park, which also surprised Bar-Yam.

"I personally didn't know that park," Bar-Yam said. "My son's been there. That park is a fabulous park, so of course it makes sense."

A Twitter search for Fort Tryon Park reveals similar results.

"I've got a lot of good memories of Fort Tryon Park in the rain #NYC," tweeted user @James_L_McKnight on Thursday.

"So pretty up here!" added user mishastuart, who checked into the park on Foursquare over the weekend.

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