Monday, July 19, 2010

Central Park, New York's Theme Park

New Yorkers call Central Park their "gem" and they are right - it is an oasis of nature nestled among the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

Well, that's not strictly true - it's actually north of most of the biggest buildings, and it is mostly surrounded by the residences and museums of the city's Upper East and West Sides. But it is quite a place, beautifully sculpted into the landscape of Manhattan. Restful areas like the Turtle Pond and Strawberry Fields are hidden next to athletic fields, man-made lakes and streams, and lots of walking paths weaving through the mature woods.

Central Park was supposed to be more than simply an open, green space in the asphalt jungle - it was also intended to be a work of art, and I believe it does succeed on that level. A walk around it immerses you in the place, relaxes you and entertains you - all things that good artwork do.

Everyone knows about the puppet theater and the Central Park Zoo and the outdoor Shakespeare theater. There is also a small amusement park near the south end of the park, and there are rowboats available for rental so you can take a short float trip around the lake. There is a nice carousel and a chess/checkers pavilion. A couple of restaurants are in the park and others are right outside.

What I knew about Central Park I mostly learned from movies, like Disney's Enchanted among others. And as I walked through the park, I could almost see Amy Adams breaking out into song on one of the pathways, or the Prince leaping from a bridge only to cause a massive bicycle crash (with him at the center of it). Real life intruding on movie fantasy!

Though the weather was oppressively hot when we were there, this was a place where I would like to spend more time, and explore more thoroughly.


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