The curious paradox of New York City is this- if it has a fault it’s that there isn’t much green space in most of the city, and yet this lack means you can pool your resources to create the best park in the world. Seriously, you wander through most of New York City amazed but wishing there was a patch of grass for your eyes to rest on, and then you wander into Central Park where there’s so much that you forget it can possibly be in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world.
Honestly, I have yet to meet someone for whom wandering around Central Park wasn’t a highlight. Even something like a shady row of trees becomes something magical- for example I was wondering why these trees behind me looked so aesthetically appealing and unusual until we spotted a sign saying to please not step over the fence in order to protect the elm trees. Aha! A few decades back North America was devastated by Dutch Elm Disease, meaning the trees that dotted most American streets all died out. Central Park still maintains one of the last populations and I can see why my dad always mentions the fact that the elms have died out with sadness- they’re really quite lovely.
A motley crew of street performers at the end of the row of elms playing 20s-era music who were amazing. There was a group of joggers in the background to watch as well in which I got to explore the curious habit of New Yorkers and their personal trainers- you’d never listen to a friend telling you to run down a path in lunges and squats, but somehow when you pay someone for the privilege of doing so it’s cool. Seriously, I saw one trainer in the park convince his clients to play that obstacle course game where you spin ten times around with your head on the end of a bat then have to run around cones. Most people know you haven’t played this game voluntarily since last forced in 5th grade for a reason (namely that that game sucks), but apparently when a personal trainer tells you to do something you reconsider even though everyone walking by you will stop to enjoy the spectacle.
Moving along, the thing that particularly struck me about Central Park is just how proper everything is, and what care has been taken right down to the last tree and bush to make it an aesthetically appealing place. Very Zen. Also due to size you can incorporate so many little activities that you normally can’t put into a park, from renting remote-control sailboats to even the occasional gondolier.
My second-favorite Central Park addition, by the way, is how there is a bona-fide castle called Belvedere Tower in the middle of an area known as the Shakespeare Garden. (The Shakespeare Garden is also the site of where the introduction of the European starling to North America in 1890, a major pest of an invasive species, due to a man named Eugene Schiefflin who decided all the birds in Shakespeare plays should be released in Central Park. Not making this up.) The reason I like it is because I have long maintained the opinion that North America could certainly benefit from the addition of a few well-placed castles on a mountainside or two and Belvedere Tower is as great a proof of this as I’m going to get. Absolutely lovely and crawling with tourists!
So if that’s my second-favorite place in the park what’s my favorite, you ask? Well this pile of stones comes to mind-
I’m sure there are one or two cultural Neanderthals who don’t like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I for one hope to never meet them. I mean between the ancient Egyptian and sculpture garden and arms and armor and European Gallery and Impressionists and I-don’t-even-know-what-else how could you say nothing interests you?
After a few hours of admiring the priceless treasures museum overload kicks in, but of course the great thing is you can just go find a shady spot in Central Park and chill for a little bit until you’re up for a little more wandering. As I’ve said, best park in the world and you’re going to have to try hard to convince me otherwise!