Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square people ice skating

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park

Five-acre Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square is in the heart of Center City, right next to the Strong National Museum of Play. In summer, there is open green space with walking paths, flowing water, and a playground with spray-pad. In December, the park hosts the Roc Holiday Village, the official opening of ice-skating season.

Ice Skating at Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square
MLK Jr Memorial Park daytime ice skating
Martin Luther King Jr Park at Manhattan Square ice skating
Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square ice skate rental
MLK Jr Memorial Park ice skating daytime

Outdoor 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 Park at Manhattan Square Roc Holiday Village daytime
Roc Holiday Village fire pit
Roc Holiday Village
midtown monorail car
letters for Santa mailbox
Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square Roc Holiday Village

Roc Holiday Village

We’re so excited about this new (as of 2018) family-friendly feature in Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park! The Village has incorporated the traditional ice skating experience into an overarching holiday extravaganza complete with Santa’s workshop, shops, food & beverage, hands-on activities, and planned events.

Roc Holiday Village will be open on weekends Dec. 6 through New Year’s Eve..

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

Lighting of the Liberty Pole

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. The Liberty Pole officially comes to life the first Saturday in December.

Sunken Amphitheater

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

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.

spray pad
Strong Museum

There is a playground on the side facing the Strong National Museum of Play.

Martin Luther King Jr Park sunken plaza

The sunken plaza

Clearly the most striking and memorable feature of the park is the sunken concrete plaza. 

Martin Luther King Jr Park at Manhattan Square cascades

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.

Martin Luther King Jr Park at Manhattan Square fountains

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.

Martin Luther King Jr Park mural
New Mural Summer 2019

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.

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

Google satellite view of Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park

In the satellite image above, 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 Veg Fest
VegFest

Events & Festivals

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

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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What do you enjoy most about Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!

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