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.
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.
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.
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.
Events & Festivals
Concerts in the amphitheater
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.
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, 2020 through New Year’s Eve.
There are several options when looking for ice skating rinks around Rochester, NY. It first depends on whether you own your own skates or need to rent.
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.
Whether it’s your first date night in Rochester or 50th, spending time exploring with your partner is a great way to connect and learn about each other.
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!