Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square people ice skating

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square

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 and events are organized frequently, and the cascades behind the stage make for a beautiful backdrop. There is a playground on the side facing the Strong National Museum of Play.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square midtown monorail car
On display in Santa’s Workshop: An historic Midtown Plaza Monorail car

New in 2018: Roc Holiday Village

There is so much to say about this new family-friendly feature in Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park! The Village has incorporated the annual ice skating experience into an overarching holiday experience complete with Santa’s workshop, shops, food & beverage, hands-on activities, and planned events. Plus, you can rent a winter igloo for your little party-of-8. The village will be open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in December until Christmas.

MLK Jr Memorial Park Roc Holiday Village daytime

Roc Holiday Village fire pit

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square fire pit

Roc Holiday Village MLK park

Lodge in Roc Holiday Village

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square Roc Holiday Village

Roc Holiday Village letters for Santa mailbox

Roc Holiday Village website

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Ice Skating Rink

Check the city’s website for ice skating fees, hours of operation, and special events at Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square children ice skating

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square people skating ice

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square skating night

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square ice skate rental

MLK Jr Memorial Park ice skating daytime

MLK Jr Memorial Park daytime ice skating

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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 afterward to officially open the Roc Holiday Village and ice skating for the season.

Liberty Pole Rochester NY
Liberty Pole on Main Street in Rochester, NY

A shaded promenade in the warmer months

Within the small grove of trees is a walking path through rolling hills (well, mounds really) that defy the surrounding urban flatland. There are several benches along the paved pathway.

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The playground & spray pad

Martin Luther King Jr Park spray pad

Martin Luther King Jr Park playground

Martin Luther King Jr Park Strong Museum

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.

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Martin Luther King Jr Park at Manhattan Square
As tempting as it is, wading is discouraged.

Martin Luther King Jr Park at Manhattan Square

Martin Luther King Jr Park at Manhattan Square
…Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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.

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Martin Luther King Jr Park at Manhattan Square
Concerts in the sunken amphitheater pre-renovation.

Events & Festivals

The park meadow also hosts small festivals and events like Movies with a Downtown View, Rochester VegFest, and Carifest.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square
Rochester VegFest

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Keeping cool by the pool

Martin Luther King Jr Park fountains

Google satellite view of Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park

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.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square Overhead
Google satellite view, facing east.

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.

A post shared by Michael G (@scorpiogams) on

Debi Bower

Born, raised and living life as a digital designer in Rochester, NY! I am also a day-tripper, writer & photographer, exploring the nooks and crannies that make our part of New York State so special.

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