Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thank you Central Park! ♥

Before coming to New York to work a few years ago, I had only heard and seen Central Park in print and media.  I liked what I read and saw and decided to explore it in my free time.  Now, my week is incomplete without stopping by and spending some time in the Park.  

I usually take lots of pics when I walk in the Park, and some of those, I tweet to Central Park's twitter handle @CentralParkNYC.  It's always a pleasure to see them retweet my pics, but this tweet absolutely takes the cake!

Thank you Central Park! I am so honored and feel so special!

@CentralParkNYC first retweeted a pic I sent them in November last year, when their twitter handle was still @CentralParkBuzz.

And last January, they put on their Facebook wall a pic of the Bethesda fountain that I twitted them.

Isn't it cool?

Ah, I love this place! It is so magical, and the Park always gives me something to smile about each time I walk there.

So last Saturday, I was there again, walking the Park's length from the southeast edge at 59th Street up to the northwest corner coming out at 110th Street.

At the southeast edge of the park lies The Pond. It is a favorite of many especially the kids who like seeing the ducks and the geese.  These past weeks, I've been following a geese family who live in The Pond. When I first saw them the first week of May, the goslings were still babies ..

Look how they've grown in two months! They were busy preening at The Pond when I passed by last Saturday.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can chance upon the great white egret at the Pond.  I've seen it there more than a couple of times stalking fish. It looks so delicate but you could see the hunter in its eyes.

From The Pond, I continued walking towards The Mall. Before I got there, I stopped for a moment and listened to this lady with the violin. She was playing some classics near the Mall entrance.  One time, I had the pleasure of listening to her play Vivaldi's Four Seasons inside the Times Square subway station on a cold winter day.

Then I proceeded to The Mall, the only straight line path in Central Park. The majestic American elm trees were a welcome sight on this hot summer day.

The end of the Mall leads to an open area where the Naumburg bandshell is. The bandshell is often host to concerts and other musical events. Last Saturday, it was the site for Adventures NYC celebrating New York City parks and the great outdoors.  Feel like taking a dip?

From the bandshell area, I stopped next at the nearby Bethesda Terrace which gives you the best view of the Bethesda fountain.  The fountain, featuring the beautiful Angel of the Waters, is the heart of the Park's design. 

That day there were many people at the terrace as free kayak rides at The Lake were offered as part of Adventures NYC activities.  You can also see the Loeb Boathouse in the pic below as people enjoy the free kayak rides as well as the regular boat rides the Park offers.

But who needs a free kayak ride or a regular boat ride when you can enjoy  The Lake in style?

Crossing the Lake via the Bow Bridge leads you to the Ramble.  It was a nice walk around all that greenery.  I took the path that meanders along the Lake and exited the Ramble at the Oak Bridge, which gives you a great view of the buildings of midtown Manhattan and the boats at The Lake.

I then proceeded to walk north, with The North Woods as my final destination.  Passed by one of the Park's bridges, Winterdale.

And walking further north led me to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, once used to receive water from the Croton Aqueduct for distribution to Manhattan, it is no longer used and was decommissioned in 1993.  Now, it is one of the main ecological sanctuaries in the Park, housing a lot of waterfowl and bird species, and a favorite among runners and joggers for its 1.58 miles track, and great views of the city skyline.

I passed by some flowers blooming along the bridle path going further north.  I don't know what's it called but I've seen it in other colors like red and orange.

Finally, I arrived at The Pool, its a smaller body of water than The Pond but it is also a favorite of ducks and geese, and it seems on hot summer days, of dogs, as well. :-)

The Pool will lead you right to the Pool Grotto, one of the Park's hidden treasures.

Across that waterfall is the Glen Span Arch, it is the southern boundary to The Loch where I am headed. The arch has a grotto and looks beautiful in the afternoon light.

After crossing the arch, I am now in the North Woods, being here is like you're in a different world, far away from the noise and bustle of city life. It is a great getaway place, i love walking here.


At the northern end of the Loch is another waterfall, it's so peaceful here, I could stay for hours.

Across the waterfall is another arch, the Huddlestone Arch.  It has stood since 1866 without the use of any binding material, only gravitation and friction holds the stones together.

Going right from the arch leads to the Harlem Meer while to the left are steps leading to the Lasker Pool.  The pool was still closed when I passed but already filled with water in anticipation of the official opening of all NYC outdoor pools last June 28.

I've now reached the northernmost portion of the Park. On the way out, I can see the Charles Dana Discovery Center by the Harlem Meer.

I marked my walk on the Park map.  Here's how the walk went ..

Next time I'll walk the Park the opposite way from what I did on this walk. I'll start at the southwest side of the Park and end at the northeast side. That way I can share with you pics from that side of the Park.

Until then, it's Saturday, and my beloved Park is calling me .. 

For more pics of Central Park, here's my album on Flickr.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Little Red Lighthouse

Last week was my third time to walk to the Little Red Lighthouse, Manhattan's only remaining lighthouse, and also my third time to get lost.  I really need to pay attention when reading directions. 

The Little Red Lighthouse stands on Jeffrey’s Hook, a small point of land that supports the base of the eastern pier of the George Washington Bridge, which connects upper Manhattan to New Jersey.

It is often referred to as the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge, so when I first tried to visit and saw myself going up the ramp to the bridge, I knew I was lost. These were pics I took last year when I first tried to find the lighthouse. 

The ramp leading to the bridge walkway ..

and the pedestrian walkway of the George Washington Bridge (GWB).

Maybe I tend to forget the directions because the lighthouse is open only five times each year, every second Saturday of the months of June until October, according to the friendly park ranger on duty that day, Sunny. Here she is showing me the key to the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was first built in Sandy Hook, NJ in 1880.  It was dismantled in 1917 and in 1921, the US Coast Guard reconstructed it on its current location to improve navigational aids on the Hudson River.  When the GWB opened ten years later, the brighter lights of the bridge made the lighthouse obsolete and it was decommissioned. 

The lighthouse was supposed to be auctioned off but the public wanted to save it, thanks to the popular children's book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, written by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward in 1942. So now it proudly stands underneath the bridge.

To get to the lighthouse, take the A train to the 181st St/Fort Washington station,then walk west along 181st Street until you see a pedestrian walkway just off to the right.  This pic was taken after I crossed the walkway, the lighthouse is accessible only to pedestrians and bikers.

The path to the lighthouse is steep and sloping.

You have to pass a little tunnel ..

and a wooden bridge that spans across the Amtrak rails underneath.

The pathway, which is along the Henry Hudson Greenway like Fort Tryon Park, also gives you great views of the New Jersey Palisades.

Along the way are plants and trees, the occasional flower, and raspberries (?) These were growing near the end of the wooden bridge.

Finally, a first glimpse of the lighthouse!

The path to the lighthouse is narrow, just enough for a single person or bicycle to pass through.

There it is, a beauty in red! You can see the park rangers standing on the walkway above.

Inside the lighthouse are posters about Hudson River and also the history of the lighthouse.

A view from below of the spiral stairs leading to the top.

So up the stairs I go. At the middle point it becomes narrow, only a single person could pass.  The top of the stairs lead to a landing, where some portholes are located. At that landing is another set of stairs, very steep stairs, that leads to the hatch above.

When you get through the hatch, it opens to the area where the lamp is.

To get to the walkway around the top of the lighthouse is another small opening, kids love it, though.

The walkway offers great views of the horizon and the underbelly of the George Washington Bridge.

At the distance by the horizon, you can almost see Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan meet with Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

The walkway of the lighthouse is also painted red ..

You can see the rocks below that makes this part of the Hudson River treacherous.

And part of Fort Washington Park near the lighthouse area.

The lighthouse is open only from one to four o'clock in the afternoon. By 4 pm the park rangers got ready to close the lighthouse, time for me to leave, too.  One last shot of the spiral staircase ..

and the lighthouse's red door.

One last walk around the outside perimeter of the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is now closed, to be open again next month, on the second Saturday.

Outside the lighthouse is this marker ..

and on the grounds of the park are two signs detailing the history of the lighthouse and citing a part of the book.  It has also an illustration of what the inside of the lighthouse looks like.

I went around Fort Washington Park a bit, just the part near the lighthouse.  There were tennis courts, benches and lots of picnic areas. The part of the park  facing the Hudson River reminded me of my walk along Cherry Walk last March.

One more pic of the underbelly of the GWB taken from the pathway.

And the little red lighthouse in between some trees.

I'll be back, hopefully, I won't get lost again.

For more pics of the Little Red Lighthouse and the George Washington Bridge, here's my set on Flickr.