Five-acre Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square is in the heart of Rochester’s East End. Green space with walking paths, benches for resting and open space for active play are maintained year-round. The reflecting pool in summer and ice skating rink in winter are active and loved by residents. Concerts are organized more frequently now, and the cascades behind the stage will make for a beautiful backdrop. There is a playground on the side facing the Strong National Museum of Play. I’m excited to see how this area transforms now that the inner-loop has been filled in and development plans can move forward.
Google satellite view
In the overhead image below, the reflecting pool/ice skating rink can be seen in top left, the sunken amphitheater and waterfalls, bottom left. Strong National Museum of Play is along the right side across from the playground.
A shaded promenade
Within the small grove of trees in the bottom right of the satellite image is a walking path through rolling hills (well, mounds really, picnic-pillows!) that defy the surrounding urban flatland. There are several benches along the paved pathway.
The playground & spray pad
The sunken plaza
Clearly the most striking and memorable feature of the park is the sunken concrete plaza. Designed in 1972 by Lawrence Halpbern, it was trendy at the time, though the concept never really caught on with residents, and in many ways still hasn’t. The fountains ran until the mid-80s but fell into disrepair.
The City has made the park a focus of recent urban renewal projects. In fact, the original park was planned in 1968 as an urban renewal project which served the city well for a short time but was never completed. In 2017, after extensive rehabilitation, there is water flowing again in Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park, but this time visitors are discouraged from wading in.
23 City of Rochester Parks
Concerts in the amphitheater
The 2,000-person amphitheater hosts multiple open-air summer concerts. You’ll find a wide variety of musicians playing Party in the Park and ROC the Park. During major events like Rochester Fringe Festival in mid-September and the Rochester International Jazz Festival in late-June, the park becomes one of the concert venues.
Events & Festivals
Keeping cool by the pool
Ice Skating Rink
The reflecting pool transforms for public outdoor ice skating in the colder months. Check the city’s website for ice skating fees, hours of operation, and special events.
19 Ice Skating Rinks
Lighting of the Liberty Pole
The Liberty Pole officially comes to life the first Saturday in December. While the pole is on Main Street, not in the park, there is a procession to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square afterward with fireworks and ice skating.
Photo inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square
It’s exciting to see Manhattan Square Park being utilized and loved again! Here are a few Instagrams that I’ve found inspirational lately.