212 East 42nd Street
At the back of the New York Helmsley Hotel is this plain, yet functional urban plaza, on the north side of East 41st Street roughly 100 feet east of Third Avenue. Four trees on the public sidewalk in front of the space signal that something different occurs at this point in the pedestrian’s promenade. Elevated several steps above the sidewalk, the rectangular space is open on its western side, providing a perfect court for handball, against the tall blue western wall, but for the interference of six regimentally deployed light stanchions. An inward-facing wooden bench with capacity for a dozen persons is built into the back of an oblong, two-tree planter. A smaller rectangular planter nearby has additional ledge seating. A tiny contained area at the plaza’s eastern side has a four-person bench, and is shielded from the intrusion of an adjacent driveway by a piano-shaped tree-filled planter. For a space as disassociated from its host building as this is, the quality of maintenance and amenity is good.