I’ve lived in seven different states, all of which have wonderful features for the people who live there who’re of a mind to discover them, so I don’t mean to diminish their significance in any way; however, I’ve yet to see a man-made marvel quite like Central Park. If India was a jewel in Britain’s crown, then Central Park is certainly a jewel in the crown of Manhattan. Thank heavens someone (and I’d have to do a little research to find out who or what so will leave that to the interested reader) had the dream that led to the design of this 843 acres that became a beautiful refuge for New Yorkers and visitors alike. It’s divided into four quadrants (the North End, the Reservoir, the South End, and the Great Lawn). Each of these areas is a unique design of space for rejuvenating body and mind. Alas, during our two brief visits there during this trip, we only managed to skim the surface, mainly on the Great Lawn, that are now favorites in memory.
If you’ve never had the pleasure to visit Central Park yourself, and to better appreciate the vastness of the park, consider these facts:
- If you wanted to walk it, the distance around the whole of Central Park is 6 miles.
- Within there are 58 miles of pedestrian pathways.
- There are 26,000 trees, 1,700 of which are American Elms.
- You can rest in the splendor of 7 ornamental fountains.
- Or sit on one of 9,000 benches.
After all, you did remember, there’s 843 total acres (!) with plenty of lawn area to take a nap when you get too tuckered out to continue like Hubby here (and we ARE still in a New York state of mind.)
A mile or so later (questionable, but it sure felt like it), we stop for another rest at the Angel of the Waters fountain (below). At the dedication ceremony in 1873 the artist’s brochure quoted from Gospel of St. John 5:2-4: “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called . . . Bethesda . . . whoever then first after the troubling of the waters stepped in was made whole of whatever disease he had.” From that time on the area of became known as Bethesda Terrace. A combination of tired tootsies and the promise of healing waters led to the picture on the right. Ahhhhhhhh! It felt just as wonderful as it looks! Don’t know about diseases, but it sure was therapeudic on achy feet.
The park’s Commissioners way back in 1873 worried that the unreigned installation of sculptures in the gardens might destroy it’s naturalness, so they proposed that the “Literary Walk” at the southern end of the Mall become the designated location of sculpture. There are statues of William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, as well as Victor Herbert, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and–though not a “literary” figure–you can see Christopher Columbus too. Probably the most recognized scene in the park, from movies as well as photographic and other art mediums, is the scene below.
Below: Another day, another museum, this time the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, or MOMA as most people refer to it, catches our attention. I personally wanted to see art that I would recognize instantly, such as my favorite Van Gogh, Gaughin and Edward Hopper. They were all there and in spite of the crowd I was able to get close enough to study their brush strokes a bit. And I discovered the beauty in some of the more contemporary artists I’d always suspected of pulling my leg and everyone else’s as well:
I once challenged an art professor/historian that a lot of the “modern stuff” is so simple that I could have done it myself! She smiled and answered, “but you didn’t, did you?” She was right. That’s the difference. So, if this many people admire Andy Warhol, then who am I to defer? But then, referring once more to the essays of Tolstoy on “what is art” I insist on offering the following “modern” art I created myself right then and there in MOMA. The first of course is a beautiful example of the varied architecture of New York that I love and is missing from modern architecture (plus, remember that I lived for 8 years in Las Vegas). The second is a staircase taken from the wide expanse of window in a viewing hall in which I was standing. I love the way it looks! And, interestingly, those two people on the stairs seem to be taking a picture of me as I was taking a picture of them. Makes it even more interesting, don’t you think? I’m in their history, just as they are in mine.
Well, was I right? You be the judge!
I had thought I’d finish up my New York State of Mind posts with this #2 (and one more to come on food in the Big Apple–that I’m really looking forward to), but I’m afraid I must postpone the end and revisit in a #3 post to come soon. I’ve neglected my out of state guests long enough for today. Duty calls. I hope you’ll come back.