Famed Central Park. The park in Manhattan is big enough for anyone to completely forget we are in the middle of the concrete jungle that New York City is. The place was once occupied by pig farms, a garbage dump, and African American village, in the 1850s. Twenty years were needed to transform this place into a park, and over 20,000 workers. With over 24,000 trees, seven bodies of water, 136 acres of woodland this is the lung of the city. Where locals go to relax, work out, to simply get in touch with nature. With green. It is the place where concerts, parties, and festivals take place often. And it is estimated that receives over 38 million visitors a year.
I love a good park. The abundance of parks, and amazing parks, is one of the things I love the most about London. It is true you’ll find a city lover in me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love nature. I do. A lot. And so I often need to escape, and such green spaces (or orange/yellow/brown in autumn, or simply grey in Winter) are the perfect solution. And this happens because we are part of nature. We cannot escape the desire for escapism. The desire to connect to where we actually came from.
the lack of good parks in New York (talking specifically about Manhattan) was what disappointed me the most. When you look at a map of the city this isn’t immediately palpable. You see some green patches here and there, besides the huge green rectangle that is Central Park. But those are mostly small squares, with some green lawns, often closed off, where you can still hear all the noise the city shouts, and smell all of the smells it emanates. Central Park is the only true escape.
And what a massive one. I wanted to explore the whole lot, but of course, I was being too optimistic. I spent a whole afternoon there, my last afternoon in New York, and after days of walking in very hot weather, my body was starting to send me signs (very painful ones) that it was time for me to slow down. Thankfully I had taken with me a book, and I did spend about an hour on the lawn reading for a while and trying to regain some energy.
It was a Sunday, and a sun day indeed. Everyone was out, everyone was at the park. Absorbing some much-needed vitamin d, reading, having some snacks, and hanging out with friends and family. Lots of birthday parties around. And of course tourists like myself.
And tourists can be annoying. As a huge fan of the Beatles, I understand. And I really try to understand when my bus is struggling to pass through Abbey Road in London because of all of these people treating the crossing as a photoshoot spot. And in New York, people are doing the same with the spot across The Dakota, where Lennon was murdered in 1980. I could barely take a picture of the monument as everyone kept stepping in to pose.
I experienced the same annoyance at the Bethesda Terrace -my fault for visiting the park on a Sunday, but I didn’t have much of a choice. It was so crowded, all I wanted was to leave the moment I arrived. Yet, this place was built precisely for visitors to gather – but did it have to be this beautiful? I could hardly take any photos, but I did take my time appreciating all of its beautiful details and doing some people-watching while resting my feet.
And this was my experience of Central Park. I wish I had more time in New York and had been able to choose a day of the week to visit Central Park with probably fewer crowds (and also it would have been nice if it weren’t so hot… ). Perhaps the future will provide more opportunities for it, who knows? 🙂