Sunday, May 1, 2011

Springtime in New York's Central Park

Spring comes to New York's Central Park
For those of us who live in New York, there are plenty of times for quiet thought and life without the daily stresses that seem to characterize urban living in the minds of so many people.

Indeed, the idea of our city as a loud, disruptive place probably comes from somewhere else; it's been my experience for the entire time I've lived in New York (won't tell you how long) that when a New Yorker wants to find a quiet space, he'll know where to go.

And sometimes it's a place where there are lots of other people, but the space is so grand that we don't interact with each other unless we decide to.

Central Park is one of those places. I recently decided to take an afternoon off and head for the park. Often called "the nation's backyard" (a nickname I've never really figured out, because it's really New Yorkers who take advantage of this "backyard" - oh, well), Central Park's 843 acres are the product of the great minds of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. These great masters spent over ten years building the park, and while many people seem to think the park is the last remaining vestige of the city's "natural" land forms, they're wrong. The park is completely man-made, and (as Sara Cedar Miller points out in the best of the many books on the park, Central Park: An American Landscape), in the 1850s it was "America's greatest example of the marriage of aesthetics and engineering."

"Cleopatra's Needle"
I love the park, and I never tire of sneaking a peek at some of the less obvious things to look at. I love the way the statues often seem to suddenly appear amidst some foliage (especially when blooming, like right now). On Friday I had fun with the Carl Conrad statue of Alexander Hamilton, which could easily - in all the blossoms - have been missed. And demonstrating that New York was not to be outdone by European cities with their placement of ancient monuments within the city's borders, our popular "Cleopatra's Needle" truly is an ancient obelisk, dating from c. 1450 B.C. Its placement in the park, though, separates New York a little from its European urban precursors, since they put their ancient obelisks in prominent locations, usually a public square (and that was what Vaux wanted to do, but he didn't win that battle).

Friday's springtime-in-the-park photographs can be see here.

1 comment:

DStanley said...

Thanks, Guy! I really enjoyed that.