Best Place to Read a Book or Get Married - 2011
Few recognize the name Maguire Gardens, but this charmingly landscaped, small but impressive green space on the western face of downtown's Central Library is familiar by description. It's one of the most unlikely and magically peaceful places in the city, and it's open to the public every day of the year. Lawrence Halprin, renowned landscape architect, designed the meandering pathways, inscribed and sculptural fountains and stairwells, and the rhythmic disposition of hearty, nontropical foliage and old-timey lampposts and benches. The park packs a lot of variety and romance into its fairly compact footprint, recalling the New York Public Library–adjacent Bryant Park in spirit if not in scale. There are hidden nooks but no dark corners, and its choreographed interaction with the towering library behind, the more modern pillars of sky-refracting glass above the shading of leafy trees and the amazingly faded hubbub of still-proximal busy downtown streets makes for a time-slowing, restorative experience. With Pinot perched at one end, it's no wonder so many people tie the knot here. Benefits include: views of sunsets, scarcity of dogs and joggers, lack of nefariousness, and free wireless emanating from the library. 630 W. Fifth St., dwntwn. (213) 228-7000, lapl.org.
—Shana Nys Dambrot