Archive for the ‘Central Park’ category

A Saturday in NYC

September 12, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve done any significant new wandering around NYC; but today I did.

It’s cool, dreary, and overcast with occasional rainshowers. My kind of day. I got up and couldn’t figure out what I felt like doing and realized it’s been forever since I’ve wandered through Central Park. So, off I went. Without my camera (so no new pictures).

I took the bus up to East 72nd Street and started to wander over to the Park. I immediately spotted something interesting: people walking around with runner numbers over their shirts. It turned out that there had been a big fitness run in Central Park and I was getting there too late to see anything of it. Well, except for one or two hundred ex-runners wandering the streets of Manhattan. No big issue, but mixed amongst them were men in kilts! Not with runner numbers…but with musical instruments. Mostly drums. (I would have loved to see bagpipes, but didn’t notice any.) I’ve never heard of bands going along with a fitness run. I realized something else must be going on. Then I started noticing people in identical shirts. Lots of them. Lots and lots of them.

I had accidentally run into the terminus of the annual labor union parade. I don’t know when and where it started, but it was being terminated at 5th Avenue and E. 72nd Street around 11am. The cops were sending the floats in one direction and the marchers in another. The marchers were wandering off toward home (I presume). I started noticing a lot of signs promoting their unions and Democratic Party politicians. No Republicans need apply around that group. I did notice one of the politicians (I recognized him from one of the posters) hugging various marchers. I think I remember his name, but I won’t guess it here.

So I stopped to watch for a little while. There was one good band with cheerleaders, but the rest was pretty boring. No, it was actually very, very, very boring. This and the St. Patricks Day Parade have to be some of my least favorite parades. Just too “municipal government-oriented” for my taste; although I have to point out that a number of the paraders were not associated with the City government. But a whole lot were. I think that if I had stuck around, I’d have seen a very similar contingent to the St. Pat’s grouping.

I did stick around for about 45 minutes. I don’t know why.

Then I entered the Park. Ahhhh! Very pleasant. I didn’t stray too far from a beeline across, but I did get to the sailboat pond where people rent remote control sailboats. There was some sort of birthday party or story-telling going on near the Lewis Carroll statues. Only two sailboats being operated, but both were being controlled pretty well. At least up until the users started using the little engines on them and they started going very quickly and ruined the casual ambiance I was feeling.

I left there and went by the boathouse where you can rent real rowboats. I didn’t see anybody out on the lake, though. The most fun thing I’ve always noticed about that place is that when a man and woman rent the boat, the woman almost always does the rowing. I don’t know why, but that seems to be the standard.

From there I went to Bethesda Fountain and saw a wedding that was just finishing. I always see brides and grooms around there on a weekend.

I did a little more wandering and decided to head out to my favorite Manhattan Street: West 72nd. It hasn’t changed over the past year or so. At least to my eye. I found a little aquarium/tropical fish store and spent a while going through there. I was actually slightly tempted. But my place is way too small for a decent aquarium. And the dead fish smell (probably starting within days of my purchase) would be too pervasive.

I went to Broadway and saw that my old favorite open-air bookselling place is still going strong. Street vendors with used books are always there. I went up Broadway to 51st Street or so and had a hamburger at Nick’s. It wasn’t as good as I remember, but the ambiance is absolutely unchanged. It is the quintessential greasy spoon and is always jammed with stoves, tables, and people.

Afterward, I went home. It was just about a 2 hour jaunt, but very pleasant.

-H

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Bon Jovi at Central Park (I didn’t see it)

July 12, 2008

I made the title very straightforward. I didn’t see the Bon Jovi free concert in Central Park. In fact, as I write this, the concert has just started and I’m at home well across town.

I did go, though. Well, sorta. An old tradition of mine is to see how close I can get to some of these events. In this case, I got a close as Fifth Avenue and 70th Street or so. The concert is clear across the park.

As soon as I got to 5th Avenue, I saw the line.

In truth, I originally thought it was for non-ticketholders. They said that the tickets were for the Great Lawn, but Central Park is big and there’s lots of space around the Great Lawn and I thought it was for those of us who didn’t get the free tickets or who refused to buy them on Craigslist for thousands of dollars.

I know I’ve heard and enjoyed Bon Jovi music. But, honestly, I can’t think of the name of a single song or album. And it just isn’t worth it for me to look for it. I just wanted to see if I could see.

I went in the direction the line was heading and ran into a nice cop who told me that the entrance to the Park that the ticketholders were heading was at 72nd or so. Actually, it was more like 70th and was a teeney tiny entranceway that was fiercely guarded by cops and Park staff. No joke. As I was taking pictures of the entranceway, shouts and all rose up where some people jumped in line and the cops and staff started yelling and pointing at them to get out and head back to the end of the line. I don’t know why I didn’t capture the event on camera, but it only took about three seconds and mostly consisted of yelling (which really doesn’t show up in a picture).

Below is one of the pictures I was taking. Another picture (not shown) was a closeup of the sign. It was hilarious. No weapons allowed, no radios, no recording devices, no large bags or backpacks, no umbrellas, no glass or metal containers, no cameras, no strollers, no alcohol, no coolers, no chairs, and “no other items prohibited by the city and concert promoters”. Maybe they wouldn’t have liked my hat or my socks. And are weapons okay in CP apart from the concert? No strollers? No cameras? You just have to love it. I presume they are seizing everyone’s telephone because most of them have cameras nowadays and lots of them can record just fine. Hilarious.

It was about 630pm when I went by. The line stretched back to 65th Street where people were still starting to line up. I had heard that the area had opened at 2pm for early birds and the like and that they might have other music playing; but that was just a rumor.

I know I could have gotten into the park. They didn’t, and certainly couldn’t, block the whole thing off no matter how much they may have wanted. But, like I said, I’m not really a fan and I just wanted to see how close I could get by just walking up. I was a little surprised not to see some scalpers around. Maybe if I had looked a little more desparate and held up some cash…

No. I’m way too cheap to pay for a free concert by a group whose music isn’t really any sort of passion of mine. And I really can’t think of a single song of their’s. I know I’d recognize some, and I’d probably like it…but nah. Ain’t worth it to me.

-H

307th Infantry Memorial in Central Park

June 26, 2008

Near the clamshell in Central Park (at the level of 69th Street and just to the east of Fifth Avenue) is a war memorial that I have never noticed before.

It’s the World War I memorial to the dead of the 307th Infantry, 77th Division of the Allied Expeditionary Forces from New York. The area is marked, but it is very unobtrusive. There’s a stone with information carved into it. It’s already fading away. But it notes that from 1917 to 1919 there were 590 deaths of officers and men. Yes, WWI only lasted until 1918, but I presume some died of their injuries after the armistice.

The memorial is spread out and really consists of plaques in front of trees.

There’s a second larger stone, more professionally done (and recently cleaned of grafitti) that commemorates the members that were, I guess, masons from the order of the Knights of Pythias.

There are two kinds of plaques. The first is copper and shiny. I didn’t see one that didn’t have some sort of prymarks or damage. One each of these is a list of names of the 590. The names on the different plaques don’t seem to overlap. Each group of soldiers has their own plaque.

The second type of plaque is more brass. This one commemorates the members of the machine gun company who were killed in action. Two sergeants and ten privates in this case.

There’s actually a bit of an overlook of the area nearby. An outcropping of schist and I got a grand overview of it.

 

Some of the trees that had plaques in front of them have already been removed. Perhaps age, perhaps blight. I don’t know if there are plans to replant, but I would certainly hope so.

-H

Adventure NYC Event in Central Park

June 15, 2008

On Saturday, there was a special exhibition being performed in Central Park. It seems to be called “Adventure NYC” and was pretty cool. The weather was hot and sunny (although it stormed much later in the day) and the biggest sight was a welcome one for a lot of kids and parents. A temporary water slide.

The line for it, as you might suspect, was huge. But the speed of the throughput of people was pretty minor

Near the waterslide were some tents/kiosks. They had a variety of items there. I managed to get a free sample of some pretty good Greek yogurt. There was a backpacking place. And a place that was showing off their one-man tents.

But the biggest thing around? A half-pipe for bikes. It was set up right in the middle of the Park and there were a lot of people around watching bikers going on it.

Because it was temporary; no elevator. At least no internal elevator. Instead, they had a cherry-picker that would take up two bicyclists at a time. One on this side of the half-pipe and one on the other side. That is, four bikers would meet on the same side of the actual pipe, but two came up a cherry-picker on one side and the others on the other side.

Here they are going up on the cherry-picker. It was 50 or 60 feet up, I would guess.

They would come down the same side one at a time. It took maybe 90 seconds for all four to finish each round and then new riders would go up. Here’s a shot of how they would come down the side.

Once they reached the top of the up-ramp part of the half-pipe, they didn’t seem to do any tricks. They’d just go for big air and a little hang time. This picture below is about the best one I got of the big air. Once they came down, they’d just ride off the ramp. They didn’t go back up the side they had originally come down.

And the half-pipe was only for registered riders. The public was just allowed to watch.

Nearby was a set of three artificial rock climbs. Two were in pretty good use, but the line was much smaller than for the water slide.

But the thing I liked the most was a trampoline set up near the clam shell.

It was a group of trampolinests called “Flying Aces”. It consisted of five guys from Utah, Texas, and New Jersey. They had two trampolines set up side by side.

Apparently, these guys ski and snowboard in the winter, but in the summer they trampoline. They pulled out their skis and snowboards to perform tricks, but they are probably just their training exercises for their real jobs.

One of them is up for the Olympics from what the announcer said. Who knows?

Nevertheless, they did one heck of a lot of stunts. They guy below was a real showman. At one point he did some stuff so high I couldn’t believe it. You just feared a puff of wind that would knock him ever so slightly off course.

Being side by side trampolines, they really got into synchronized stunts. Lots of flips and all done by both at pretty much the same time.

All in all, the trampolines were the height of the Adventure event. Really, really good.

-H

Central Park in Winter

February 29, 2008

I recently wandered around part of Central Park.

It’s beautiful in winter.  Just a few shots to show it.

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This is all from roughly the 66th Street level.  The sense of quiet and the desolation of winter are all about.

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But there is always the knowledge that you are in NYC’s Central Park.

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-H

Central Park World War I Memorial

February 9, 2008

As I was walking along the east side of Central Park recently, I ran into a World War I memorial.  It’s just off 66th Street or so and is dedicated to New York’s Seventh Regiment of the One Hundred and Seventh US Infantry.

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It comes from an era where the symbolism is a bit less…symbolic.  I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have noticed a stylized sculpture quite as readily as I did guys brandishing bayonets, but that’s just me.

And I’m happy to know that NYC remembered, and remembers, its veterans.

-H

A free peak into the Central Park Zoo

February 8, 2008

The Zoo is nestled in the east side of the Park and is a popular family destination.  I’ve been by it a hundred times, but I recently was walking along Fifth Avenue and found that you can glance into it from street level.

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There are some neat “tree trunks” that are a big as small sheds.  I presume they are artificial, but I couldn’t tell.

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It’s not lions and tigers and bears in the “free view” area.  But some birds and llamas and the like.

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I’m a cheap man, so the free view is fun.  However, I will (someday) do the zoo when I have some spare time and it isn’t too crowded.

-H