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New $2.1M Pearl Street Playground Opens Downtown

By  Julie  Shapiro and Serena Solomon | June 4, 2012 7:53am 

20-month-old Lucy enjoyed the swings in the new Pearl Street Playground on June 1, 2012.
20-month-old Lucy enjoyed the swings in the new Pearl Street Playground on June 1, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — The new, bigger Pearl Street Playground filled with frolicking children shortly after it opened its gates late last week for the first time following a year of construction.

The $2.1 million playground — which features spray fountains, a sand pit, swings and landscaped seating areas — got positive reviews from its inaugural visitors on Friday afternoon.

Hugo, 7, a TriBeCa resident, called the park "great."

"There are a few nice different things here," added Tara Hardwick, 41, Hugo's mother. "It's got a sand pit, water — variety."

The new triangular park at Pearl and Fulton streets is about 30-percent bigger than the old Pearl Street Playground. During construction, the city expanded the small park to the north by shutting down the narrow, one-block Little Pearl Street.

The previous playground on the site was a basic playscape on a barren former basketball court, surrounded by a foreboding black fence, but the new design features lush plantings, sculptural rocks and separate play areas for children of different ages.

The playground's oyster-shaped design and mix of sand and water were inspired by the location's history as Manhattan's original shoreline, dotted with sea grasses and sprinkled with oyster shells.

Caroline O'Connor, 34, a Battery Park City resident, who brought her two young children to the park Friday, said she liked that she could watch them both as they played separately.

"We needed something like this," O'Connor said, as her 5-year-old Shane played in the sand and 20-month-old Lucy rode a swing. "Imagination [Playground] I like a lot, but for two kids it's too big…. It's good to have the options of two parks."

In addition to Pearl Street Playground and the new Imagination Playground on John Street, the city also opened the refurbished DeLury Square and Titanic parks along Fulton Street in 2010.

"We are pleased to complete the renovations to Pearl Street Playground," Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro said in a statement, "further improving and increasing access to parks and open spaces in lower Manhattan, particularly along the Fulton Street corridor."