The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words” well, here’s 1000 words about a picture.
It’s hard to compare suburban Texas to Manhattan. There is more greenery in Texas, there is far more wildlife. The wild life in Manhattan is merely the vibrance of so many people living so close to each other. This picture encompasses why I try to explain that New York City is an amazing place. We’ve heard it a million times – an entertainer waxing philosophically about the wonders of the center of the universe. People who visit Manhattan understand where the love comes from. There is an appreciation for all that has been written about the city, and Central Park is very unique all on its own.
This is just was just a stroll from 5th avenue. I had spent a week in the East Village, and one day I decided to take a walk through the park. The city was just having its morning coffee after it’s cold slumber through winter. I had originally booked the trip in hopes that spring had sprung, but I sprung too early. It was in the 30s most of the week, so on this cold day, I expected the park to be serene. I was right, but it still maintained an energy level that competes with any suburban city in the rest of the United States. This picture alone had me walking passed more people than I interacted with for an entire month in my small suburban village outside of Dallas.
The corridor I came from is where the romantic comedy was invented. I could list off at least ten movies that have scenes from the benches that stretch nearly a mile, with breaks for roads and crossings. On this cold late morning, I walked, with my headphones in, up the path that is littered with street painters. I perused some of their art, and appreciated much of it, and wondered how different their capitalist desire was from the graffiti artist tagging buildings and leaving no reference.
I called my mother. For some reason, I felt as if she would be more comfortable than she believed. Just last night I was having a conversation about the amount of human feces in San Francisco. Up to date, there have been 6,000 reported cases in the first half of 2019. My mother has the perception that New York is worse than San Francisco with regard to overpopulation. You won’t see much human feces in Central Park, not coming out of winter. The park makes the city feel far away, and that is the beauty of the design. I called to let her know that I could see her riding one of the horse carriages through the park, which is displayed in the right hand corner of this picture.
Of course, no parent wants to take advice from their child. Most parents don’t quit being parents. Most parents see their grown-ass children as little-ass children. I have often maintained an idea that many people only see you as the first impression. Just because you meet someone, doesn’t mean you made an impression on them. When it comes to children, I think parents often see them as the most impactful point that they recall – a picture frozen in time that is solidified but completely fluid. Parents know the most about a child’s failings, and although proud of the success, still maintain an arrogance over their child. My advice to most people falls on deaf ears, so when I think that my mother is the perfect tourist for New York City, she disagrees. But, she is, she would love walking under the shadows of 20+ story buildings that just disappear into the forest of Central Park. All the noise of the city is only a few hundred yards away within Central Park.
If I dropped a pin in this exact spot, there might be a million people within walking distance of this picture. Thousands of tourists, thousands of commuters (the bridge and tunnel crowd, and thousands of residents living adjacent to the park. When I was taking this picture, I could hear my own breathe. At times on this walk, only the clop, clop, clop, clop of the horse drawn carriages, and the music of my choice was heard. Not the annoying drivers who honk as soon as the light turns green, or the kids facetiming on speakerphone while walking down the street eating a gyro. Not the beggars putting a hand out, nor the barkers trying to get your attention. Every major city has these issues, but for some odd reason, Central Park silences all the chaos.
Is it magical? Or was it designed? I would say it was a design, like any properly designed city, Central Park isn’t even New York’s biggest park, or second, it’s 5th! It’s location is important, but the respect it garners is what has made it magical. It took effort to not build houses in the center of Manhattan. Even back in 1853, real estate on the island carried value. It was a concerted, anti-capitalist effort to maintain a semblance of nature within a bustling metropolis.
I lived in Riverdale/The Bronx briefly, and out my fire escape balcony, I could see Van Cortlandt park. The oldest park in New York. My building blocked the view of Manhattan, although I could walk to it easily, but my view was of the canopy of trees that was only a few blocks away. As you see in the picture, the canopy of trees that Central park provides is a shelter from the elements. Van Cortlandt park is var more dense and wild than Central Park, but it doesn’t have the universal provision of serenity. As you see, there are children happily blowing bubbles, and enjoying the freedom of space that Manhattan properties cannot provide. Everyone should enjoy the freedom of space, and I am glad that Manhattan has not become overtaken by the greed of capitalism. I am glad that forward-thinking people all agreed to provide room to breath in this dense city. I honor those people by writing about the selfless, unnamed people who made sure Manhattan is beautiful.