Summer walk in Central Park

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AA note from Pinay New Yorker: There are times when I want to write a post in a very detailed manner that it ends up languishing in my drafts folder for ages. There are times when they end up like this one, forgotten. Many months after that walk in my Central Park, I found this and just realized I never published it. Now well into winter, I have finally decided that I will hit the publish button finished or not. It’s my own ode to the summer of the pandemic here in New York City. (12.30.20)

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A couple of weeks ago when I braved returning to the city, I had the chance to do my daily walk in Central Park. This is a much delayed post, but before the summer is totally over, I wanted to share my walk around this favorite part of New York.

One of the things I have always tried to aim to accomplish in any given year is to visit Central Park all four seasons. I’m starting a bit late this time, having skipped spring, but I had the chance to explore and visit some of my favorite spots a couple of Saturdays ago. This isn’t exactly this previous weekend, but for this summer, this is my Central Park trek.

Central Park is a big patch of green in Manhattan that spans acres of land. I have yet to reach the upper fringes of the park, but have gone enough times to have my personal favorites. One place I hope to visit with Angelo one of these days is The Gill where he used to play among the rocks. Maybe one day one he is up for a picnic lunch and things are not as different as they are now.

For this particular day in the park, I had my goals set modestly to walk towards the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain. It’s deep enough into the park to be not that easily accessible from the outer perimeter, but close enough that you can go back the same way you came in from 59th street.

I chose it not only for its beauty and serenity, because it’s one of the more iconic spots here. I have beheld it several times before, and I knew from which vantage point to best take the pictures. In all honesty, the best time to visit the park is in the early fall when the leaves change colors, but the trees have not shed its leaves to prepare for winter.

I was ready with my mask, my disposable gloves in the pocket of my leggings, and a small pocket sanitizer tucked in the other pocket. The things you have to bring now that we are all social distancing and trying to be careful.

There were a lot of people in the park, but not quite as many as there used to be on a weekend. Even with the open space, I still try to avoid areas where there is just too big a mass of people breathing into the air that I might eventually breathe. So I walk in the opposite lane or detour six feet away from people.

Central Park Summer 2020
Gapstow Bridge

I always prefer to enter the park from the 59th streets perimeter where the Gapstow Bridge of Home Alone fame can be found. (The pond was dry as the setting was winter in the movie.). If you are ever in New York City and can only spare a few hours in Central Park, this is one of the best places to go to for pictures and to get a taste of our backyard here in the city. The pond itself offers several photo opportunities around it, and there are ducks and sometimes unusual birds that take a dip in the water, or who fly around the lush flora and fauna. The bridge itself is not very long but provides a view of the skyscrapers surrounding this side of the park, and sunsets and the evening lights provide a gorgeous reflection off the water if you are lucky enough to catch it.

Central Park Summer 2020

Looking Up

One thing I like about this part of the park is that it provides such a picture perfect view of the concrete jungle that Manhattan is, with the greenery of Central Park in the foreground. Depending on where you’re standing and what time of the day it is, sometimes you can get lucky and see a mirror reflection of the buildings around in the water in this pond. Not today for me.

If you are ever pressed for time and don’t have the leisure to go in deeper into the park, this iconic spot is representative of the beauty of Manhattan’s backyard.

This wasn’t a random walk. I knew where I wanted to head to. While I have another part of the park that is special to Angelo and I a little further on, my personal favorite part of this expanse is actually the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain seen below.

Central Park Summer 2020

It entails a bit of a walk from 59th street, but is a focal point of the lake that borders it, and will take you through another favorite portion here called The Mall. It is a stretch of walk bordered by elms on both sides, fenced in to help preserve its beauty. The benches that line the entire stretch of this wide walkway are an interesting bunch of names and dedications. One time, I actually found Jim Henson’s bench.

Central Park Summer 2020

When dusk sets in, the lamp posts on both sides are lit and a soft glow descends upon the corridor. You will find musicians and artists dotting the whole area. A staple of this particular patch is Jazz musician Ralph U. Williams, who has been there forever since I first walked this part of the park two decades ago. He is a fixture in the park through all four seasons, filling the air with his music . You can catch him on any given day, and enjoy his park concerts from the benches lining both sides of the mall. If you hear the smooth notes of a sax, it’s him. (I am trying to upload a 3-minute video of his performance which I shot while seated across the way from where he was playing. Rather than wait for that, though, I would like to see this post finally published.)

I found myself walking in circles the day I decided to do my 10,000 steps in Central Park. I actually ended up doing almost double that, but for all the extra steps and exhaustion, it was well worth exploring one of my favorite parts of New York City.

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It’s the penultimate day to the New Year, and I have double these pictures to share of that one day that I was able to roam Central Park freely — even if donning the required mask. I haven’t gone in the fall nor yet, this winter. I have always tried to make one year where I can visit all four seasons. Maybe 2021 is the magic year. For now, I write with the memories of this day I took to explore and just bask in the beauty of this huge patch of green in the concrete jungle that is Manhattan. In two days, it will be 2021, and if I can visit in the next couple of weeks, that makes for the first of the four seasons. Central Park will be there, waiting.

A Saturday afternoon walk down Central Park

I was in the city to meet with a friend of my sister who was visiting from Manila last Saturday.  This was our second meeting and I just wanted to catch up with her before she left, hand her a few things for my sister, and just have a different kind of Saturday lunch in the city.  Something for me.

I couldn’t believe how many people were walking up and down on a Saturday, and I guess I really shouldn’t be complaining because that means good business for my city.  We met, had lunch and said our goodbyes.  (And there will be another post about that.)  I deposited her over at Carnegie Hall on 57th and Seventh Avenue and went on my way.  I had already made up my mind that I would make my way to the bus stop through Central Park to snap up some pictures and to do a bit of some exercise for the day.  I wasn’t quite up to walking all the way to my favorite Bethesda Fountain a bit of a ways in from the 59th street edge of the park, but I thought it would be a short detour to head towards the bus stop on Madison and 57th.

Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

I missed my little guy.  He always enjoys spending time here because it’s such a wide swathe of open space, and the rock formations are great for make-believe mountains and battles in his imagination.  He likes picking up twigs on the ground and using them as swords to fight off his imaginary foes.

Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

I didn’t quite go as far as his favorite rock formation around The Ramble which I am sure we will visit again soon.

Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

I always encourage friends visiting from other places to visit even just the outer fringe of Central Park to have a sense of its feel and flavor, but when you’re visiting all those other landmarks that dot the streets of this beautiful city, it ends up as an afterthought.

This is already my second visit this year, and I hope to visit more often in the coming weeks.  There is always so much going on and even just the changing of the colors and elements of nature surrounding the park can be so awe-inspiring.  I usually end up walking the trails of the park in the fall when the foliage is the prettiest and most breath-taking, but I want to see it in its full splendor in the spring.  (Right, Lou?)

You’d think that working on 42nd and Sixth Avenue and being relatively in the same area of Manhattan would make that a breeze — but it isn’t, and it does take some effort to make it happen.  My shots this grey but pleasant Saturday have inspired me to try harder at being in this corner of my city more often this year.

Walking towards the east, I approached the Pond (of Home Alone fame) from the west side of the Gapstow Bridge and caught some nice snapshots of the water reflecting the landscape around it.  I guess it’s because the sky was the way it was, and because I was viewing the water from where I was standing.  The reflection doesn’t come out as perfectly as the shot below from angles closer to the eastern side of the bridge.
Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

By the time I got to this side of the park, the clouds had started to gather up above. That, plus the flowers in bloom were beginning to droop down towards the ground instead of standing proud looking up at the sun like usual — a sign that it was about to rain.
Walking down Central Park - April 26, 2014

I exited on to 59th street and Fifth Avenue, heading out via the Plaza Hotel side to make my way to 57th.  Always well worth the detour even on an afternoon I’m trying to get home as fast as I can… What’s your favorite part of Central Park?