N, W at Broadway
Very little about Socrates Sculpture Park's grassy grounds or unassailably cool freestanding art relates to its past life as an illegal industrial dump—except for the partly submerged remains of an old pier on the banks of the East River. The park's transformation from urban blight to outdoor sculpture studio was the result of the work of artists and community groups, led by famed American sculptor Mark di Suvero, who believed that public art could be a force for the improvement of urban communities. The park opened in 1986 and was named for Socrates in tribute to Long Island City's Greek population. Today it's popular with sculpture enthusiasts as well as ordinary New Yorkers. It's not uncommon to find sunbathers here on clear summer days, enjoying the open space and the view of Manhattan. Kids, in particular, enjoy the whimsical art. The park, which holds major spring and summer exhibitions every year, has no permanent pieces, so visitors should return often to see what's new.Tours
Free, guided tours are available year-round. Tours are led by local artists who are knowledgeable about the Sculpture Park's history and art. Private tours given upon request.