Park Here: Bringing a Little Summer to Your Winter

by Justin Mitchell

As we mentioned in this week’s episode, seasonal affective disorder is a pernicious pest for many New Yorkers.  But it does inspire many creative ways of combatting its effect.  One of the most interesting we came upon while working on that story was Park Here, New York’s “First Pop Up Park.”

Park Here is a unique interactive art project created by the Openhouse Gallery at 201 Mulberry Street in New York.  For the last couple of winters, the gallery’s staff have created a 5,000 square foot indoor park, complete with artificial grass, picnic tables, and nature murals, for New Yorkers to enjoy free of charge.

Jonathan Daou, the C.E.O. of Openhouse, explains the inspiration for this project in this audio link:


We met Daou while working on our story about seasonal affective disorder.  In the audio link below, Daou admits that he suffers from the disorder, but has found a novel way to deal with it.  He goes to Florida!

Obviously, most of us don’t have that choice.  Daou knows that, so he and his staff took a great deal of care to create an environment that would be believable to visitors.  They were very careful to select materials that would create a viable and living impression of an actual public park, in order to create a truly immersive and escapist experience.  Click below to hear Doau go into more detail:

Daou has not forgotten what originally inspired him to create Park Here.  He wants the space to provide respite from the rigors on the long, cold New York winters.  Therefore, the lights used in the park are the same type that people use to treat seasonal affective disorder.  One of the goals of the park is to make it easier to receive the benefits that come from exposure to these lights.  As he mentions below, Daou knows that keep up with treatments can be difficult.  With Park Here, he makes it easier.


Daou first started using S.A.D. lights a decade ago.  Since them, the technology has changed a lot.  These changes made creating the park much less complicated.  Daou elaborates:

Park Here will return this winter, but perhaps in a slightly different form.  Like all artistic undertakings, it is important to Daou and his staff to create something that is consistently interesting and engaging to them, so that they do not burn out.  Hear some more detail on this below:

For the most part, visitors to the park seem to enjoy what they see.  In the video below, created last winter by Fancy Cat Productions, many customers expressed satisfaction with the experience and the vibe of Park Here.

No matter how rough this winter gets, rest assured, there are creative and interesting ways to avoid letting it get you down!

Check out the Openhouse Gallery’s website for more information.