5 Places Where You Can Cry in Public Safely: New York City

Pascal Bernardon / Unsplash
As part of our Maps series, we suggest the perfect public places to have a good cathartic sob.
Words by Sydney Gore. Map by Sam Liacos.

These days, there’s a lot to cry about. We are still living through a global pandemic that has caused so much trauma, and many of us will probably spend the rest of our lives working through it in therapy. We are collectively grieving our own individual losses in real time without a user manual, and the simulation seems to be continuing on a downward spiral. There’s not a doubt in my mind that we have all spent a good chunk of our time in quarantine weeping about the uncertainty of our circumstances, but when was the last time you stepped outside to lighten the emotional load? 

For me, it was this past September after I took a phone call with a recruiter to discuss a job that I didn’t end up receiving an offer for. Sure, I could have stayed in the privacy of my own home, but I wanted to be somewhere grounding, so I headed straight to Central Park to be surrounded by nature in case things didn’t work out. There, I sat alone and inconsolable on a hill with the North Meadow Baseball Field in front view while a masked couple enjoyed their picnic. Despite the crushing disappointment, I did feel better by the time I left. 

I have to confess, crying in public is something that I never ever envisioned myself being comfortable doing. Growing up, I felt a lot of shame whenever I was worked up to the point where hot tears came spilling out. Now, I view crying as one of the most humanizing experiences that a person has. I go soft when I see the transition on someone’s face from being calm and composed to a puffy, blubbering mess within a matter of seconds. I suppose you could say that I live for the drama. The thrill of crying in public is doing it in a semi-crowded place and knowing that no one will disturb you.

There are a bountiful of prime locations for crying in public, but here are our top five picks in New York City. (Prior to COVID-19, we would strongly encourage crying on public transportation as well, but chances are nobody wants to be seen with a soggy mask.)

1.Turtle Pond at Central Park (79th St. & 85th St.)

There are so many options within this one massive location, but my personal favorite place for deeply reflecting while having a good cry is the Turtle Pond. With the Belvedere Castle not far off in the distance, this spot is tucked away from the busy Great Lawn and doesn’t usually get as much foot traffic as the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Few things in life are quite as comforting as shedding tears by a body of water in the company of ducks and turtles. 

2.The Elevated Acre (55 Water St.)

There’s not usually any compelling reason to venture to the Financial District, but this secluded garden on top of a garage at 55 Water Street is a safe haven–quite literally, it’s a meadow in a concrete jungle. It’s easy to miss next to the skyscraper, but follow the escalators all the way up and behold the oasis with its fake grass lawn, potted plants and amphitheater. If you want, you can stare out at the New York Harbor and the sound of the helicopters at the dock will drown out any wails that might escape your mouth. It’s one of Manhattan’s best-kept secrets.

3.The fountain at City Hall Park (Broadway & Chambers St.)

Believe it or not, I once spent an entire lunch break on a bench here sobbing with an ex! As we both shed what felt like buckets of tears while attempting to repair what was left of our dissolving friendship, we received not even a glance in our direction from the suited-up bystanders. On that same day, FKA twigs happened to drop “cellophane”, which really set the scene. I guarantee you’ll feel like you’re in a movie that nobody is watching. 

4.The triangle between Canal St. & Division St.

This intersection in Chinatown is home to some of my most cringe-worthy moments that ended in waiting for a Via to be my escape. The only bad thing about it is the lingering skaters dispersed on the streets, but true to their nature, they’ll ignore you no matter what emotional state you’re in. You can also grab some comfort food from Dime’s Deli, which is pretty tight.

5.The steps of the St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church (30 E 7th St.)

The steps at The Met are so overrated, anyway. When one of my friends used to live in the East Village, you could always find her here when she was upset. No one will disturb you unless it’s time for the services to begin! 

Here are a few extras, because it is N.Y.C., after all…

6. The High Line (New York, NY 10011)

Have you really, truly lived in New York if you haven’t wandered down the High Line with tears streaming down your face, wondering what path the universe has aligned for you at least once? This might be the only tourist attraction that makes you feel better about yourself, because there’s nothing quite like looking across the river at Hoboken, New Jersey, to remind you to be grateful for where you stand! (I can say that because I’m originally from New Jersey.) Also, we all know that there’s no better reason for being spotted anywhere in Chelsea. 

7. The Prospect Park Lake (Brooklyn)
Should you find yourself in Brooklyn, it’s worth heading toward the Prospect Lefferts Gardens side of the park. Before you get to the entrance, you’ll see a beautiful spot in front of the lake. Really take in the view, let your guard down, and unleash those tears! Do beware of the eels though…

8. The Williamsburg Bridge (Brooklyn)

Not leaning into existential dread with this suggestion, but I actually used to be terrified of walking across big bridges. Then came the day when I was so upset that I could barely sit still, so a former friend proposed walking across this bridge on a nice night. This was such a smooth way to pump the breaks on an impending emotional breakdown, and I honestly appreciated how they pretended not to notice me wiping away tears the entire time. 

9. The Rockaway NYC Ferry

This is more of a summertime sadness vibe, but I think you catch my drift.Take your thoughts to the sea and metaphorically drown in your sorrows. 

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