Does NYC have parks that close with no gates?

Apparently NYC has parks that close at 1am, and it is trespassing to be there after that time. These parks look like basically greenery areas with no fences or gates, I don’t know if they have signs visible.

Is this as nutty as it seems? Could you just be walking and inadvertantly enter one of these areas? Or are there clearly visible signs warning you?

There are clear signs at the entrances to Riverside Park. In any case, 99% of the time all that happens is a cop will tell you to leave. The situation described in the article is pretty unusual.

This is not unusual. In most cities I have lived in, parks have closed late at night. As friedo said, unless you are doing something else wrong, the penalty for being there when it is closed is usually being told to get out of there.

Parks that close at night was one of the things that puzzled me when I visited NYC. What’s the idea behind it? Around here (Norway), such a thing would seem completely bizarre. Are the parks really patrolled by cops who kick people out? Is this just NYC, or elsewhere in the US as well?

Having a defined closing time gives the police a legal reason to kick out hobos/druggies/prostitutes who would otherwise congregate there at night.

Not all NYC parks close at night, though.

Yeah, a friend of mine suggested that this was the reason - that the cops *can *throw people if they want to. Does that mean that if you’re just an average schmoe out for a jog, the cops are likely to leave you alone (not the guy in the OP, obviously)? Do people respect the closing times and stay out of the parks, or are they ignored?

if parks were open at night then police would need a higher level of patrol during those times to deal with the crime that would occur both to people and the park infrastructure. also the parks would require higher levels of lighting. cities all over the USA close large parks at night. some cities might have lit open small park areas for midnight basketball.

I suppose it depends on the park. My house is near Prospect Park, which doesn’t close at night, and people jog, bike and rollerblade at all hours. But Prospect Park is huge, close to 600 acres. Most parks in NYC are relatively tiny: small playgrounds, basketball courts, public pools, little grassy spots. Most such areas tend to have fences around them and will be locked at night since the Parks Dept and NYPD can’t deal with them 24 hours a day.

Riverside Park is also quite large (266.791 acres according to Wikipedia) which makes it unusual in having an enforced closing time. In my experience, they generally have a couple cops near the main entrances who will annoy you with a flashlight and say, “sorry, park’s closed,” and that’s that.

In my experience it’s very, very common throughout the United States for urban parks to have a sign saying “closes at dark” or something to that effect. There are never any gates.

The New York Times has a followup. It seems that other officers didn’t want to intervene and let Zucker go because of an ongoing corruption scandal.

In DC it is common to see parks closed at night signs, but no gates.

Actually Prospect Park, like Central Park, is officially closed from 1 am to 5 am. There’s no realistic way to physically close it off though. So that would be an example of the OP’s initial question: it’s a park that is closed during certain hours but isn’t (and can’t be) gated. Though as is clear, even locals aren’t aware that the park is officially closed at certain hours.

Police rarely patrol the interior of the large City parks when they’re closed. For many years, law abiding citizens avoided the larger parks at night. No one who grew up in NYC could forget the case of the “Central Park Jogger” a Yale-educated investment banker who was raped and beaten almost to death while jogging at night in Central Park in 1989. She wasn’t found for four hours. At the time, many people thought she was almost suicidally reckless for entering the park at night alone.

Of course NYC is so much safer today it’s hard to even make a comparison. This article says that Central Park is now busy at night and safer than it’s ever been. It seems to attribute increased safety to lower crime in the City overall, plus enforcement of the Park’s closing hours, more civillian patrols, and surveillance cameras. It lso notes that older residents cannot readily shake their feeling that Central Park + Night = Dangerous.

The expansive Cleveland Metroparks park system is open dawn to dusk (well, 6 am to 11 pm). They are not parks that can possibly have gates. You haven’t grown up in Northeast Ohio if you and your friends have never been shooed out of a park at dusk.

I have lived in a few different places (in Texas) and in my experience it is quite common for city parks to have “Park Hours” listed, usually something like “6 am - 11 pm.” And yes, I’m talking about parks that have no gates or fences. The police may cruise by the park a few times during the night and, if you are there after hours, ask you to leave.

What my near-neighbor (or ex-neighbor, depending on which side of Prospect Park we’re talking about) friedo said. There are signs. And there aren’t always gates, but there are usually fences or walls. Or it’s bounded by the street. You’re unlikely to wander into a park without realizing it unless you’re oblivious to quite a lot of things in your environment.

I looked at the parks nearest me on Google Street View. Prospect Park’s been mentioned, the cemetery has a wall, Sunset Park has a wall, Owl’s Head Park has a fence, Gravesend Park looks like it has a fence – it’s pretty well marked.

Our local parks close at night, for your safety. Safety as in that’s the time the lions, tigers and bears are often about. And a few very large opossums and raccoons, too.

Parks around here in Virginia also close dusk to dawn. I expect the reason is they don’t want people blundering around in the dark getting attacked or being attacked, getting lost, having sex, or all of the above.

There is a park near me in Montreal that is legally closed at 10PM. One night my wife and I went there to see a passage of the space station that was around 10:15. Since the lights went out at 10 in the attached tennis courts, it was the darkest sky around and also had a small hillock which gave better viewing. Five minutes later, the cops arrived and shooed us off. When I explained why we were there, he told us to go watch somewhere else. Of course, there was no somewhere else. I suspect the real reason for the ban is to stop kids from screwing.

When I lived in Zurich for a year, there was a park near us that had a ban from something like 11PM to 6AM. As it happened I was often waking at 4 and, after breakfast, I would walk to my office through this small park maybe at 5:30. No one ever told me to stop. This park seemed to be part of a churchyard and might have been private.

To hijack this a bit, there is a train running through my town. There is a car bridge and two footbridges, each about a half mile from the car bridge. One of the two footbridges is locked every night between 10PM and 6AM, for no discernible reason. The gates and locks were added only about five years ago.

I am aware of parks that close at night, there are a couple near me that do but they are fully fenced and at night the gates are locked so there is no way to blunder in. When I used to live in Texas there were several parks that closed where the only access was a single road in and out and they would put a locked barrier over the road at night.

What I was wondering about NYC was that obviously the parks are in a dense metro area with no fences or gates so I was wondering if you could cut across without realizing it.

Thanks for the answers everyone :slight_smile:

No. All of Prospect Park and Central Park (and Forest Park in Queens) is bounded by a 4 ft wall and/or 10 ft tall berm (a mound of dirt, much like a castle fortification, with plants including large trees growing out of it). It’s easy enough to clamber in over the wall and berm (indeed I used to delight in doing so as a child) but there is no chance you would not know you were entering the park.

As someone else said, you could intentionally enter the park without knowing it was closed, but there is no way to accidentally enter the park unless you wander around in a dense cloud of obliviousness (… why am I clambering through this underbrush? Where did all the cars and people go? Eh… probably doesn’t matter.).

Here’s what the outside of prospect park looks like: See the neighborhood streets to the left, and the park to the right with one of the more minor entrances visible.