I am not a native New Yorker. I’m not even a native upstate New Yorker. I do however, love New York City. Maybe it’s because so many movies and television shows are based there, but I find there’s something uniquely magical about the country’s biggest city. I think that’s why so heroes and heroines find their way there.
Because New York is such a popular setting, I like to make it a point in my stories to find locales that take readers to a part of New York they might not be as familiar with. In The Billionaire’s Fair Lady, that spot is Bryant Park.
Ready for a brief history lesson? Doesn’t matter, because you’re getting one anyway.
|Photo from Wilkipedia|
Bryant Park is a small park on Fifth Avenue, behind the New York Public Library. Today, it’s a chic gathering place, host to Fashion Week, and home to the famous Bryant Park Carousel. This wasn’t always the case. In the early nineteenth century, this uptown park was actually a potter’s field. When the city rezoned to accommodate its new reservoir, the potter’s field was rezoned as well, becoming Reservoir Park. (There’s no mention in the history about what happened to the bodies they buried; I’m hoping they too were ‘rezoned’.)
Over the years, the park became many things including the site of a Crystal Palace Replica and an Union Army Encampment. In 1884, the park was renamed Bryant Park after William Cullen Park and incorporated into designs for the new Public Library building.
|Picture from Wilkipedia|
By the 1970s however, the park fell into disrepair. It took a multi-reclamation project to bring the area back to its former glory. The new design featured gardens, statues, a “reading room”, public chess tables and of course, a French carousel.
When it came time for the characters in Billionaire’s Fair Lady to have a family-style outing, I specifically chose Bryant Park over that other, more famous New York Park. There were several reasons. First, everyone knows that other park. I thought I’d be a bit different. Second, geographically, the park made sense. Success-driven Mike Templeton lives and works in Manhattan. When it came time to entertain a toddler, it’s only natural that he would select a location he was familiar with.
Mostly, however, I chose Bryant Park because it represents the world my heroine, Roxy O’Brien, wants to be a part of. In my mind, I see Central Park as accessible to all the residents of New York City, while Bryant Park, with its statues of Gertrude Stein and piped in French music, represents the upscale side of the Big Apple. A place of culture and money. Okay, in real life the park is open to everyone. But to my heroine Roxy, who’s struggling to make ends meet, the park represent a life style that is beyond her reach. It is no accident she visits the carousel with Mike after her makeover either. For the first time in her life, she is uptown and fitting in. As a result, the visit becomes a turning point, both in how she sees herself and how she sees her dashing lawyer.
The question then becomes, can Roxy stay in the world Mike Templeton shows her? Or will she find herself back on the wrong side of town and worse – with a broken heart? You’ll have to read The Billionaire’s Fair Lady to find out! (Or, comment below for your chance to win a free copy!)
Have you ever been to Bryant Park? How about to New York City in general? If so, what’s your favorite part of the city? I’m always on the lookout for new and unusual parts of the city.
Barbara Wallace is the author of seven Harlequin romances as well as the best-selling Entangled romance Weekend Agreement. To learn more about Barbara and her books, visit www.barbarawallace.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @barbaratwallace or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BarbaraWallaceAuthor