When Samuel Paley (1875-1963) and his partners bought a network of 16 struggling stations known as Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System, he intended to use CBS to promote his La Palina cigars. Needless to say, the acquisition was a success. So was his currently less known but back then rapidly growing cigar company.
Opened in his honor in 1967, the Paley Park is now a hidden attraction to some who know and others who do not know that, being private, this is the only park in New York City where smoking is allowed. It welcomes neighboring New Yorkers for their lunch breaks, several tourists and, of course, those who wish to smoke a cigar in the fresh air.
It is basically an empty lot between two buildings on 53rd Street, off Fifth Avenue. About a dozen equidistant honey locust trees provide some visual and acoustic protection. And then there is the wonderful, also visual and acoustic principal attraction – the wall-to-wall water cascade. A group of uniformed friendly gentlemen maintains and protects this property with joy and pride every day of the week.
In a city full of noise, constantly generating speed, and its many efforts to reduce the places in which cigar smokers may spend leisure time, Paley Park is an oasis in many ways.