Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Autumn in Central Park

In a previous blog, I wrote about walking the length of Central Park from the southeast side and crossing the park to end it at the northwest side.  Two weekends ago, I again walked the length of the Park going the opposite way. I started at the southwest entrance, the Merchant's Gate which was named to honor commerce and business professions for their important contribution to New York City, crossed the park at The Ramble and ended at Harlem Meer, at the northeast side of the Park.

Standing near the Merchant's Gate is the Maine Monument.  It commemorates the 260 American sailors who perished when the battleship Maine exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, then under Spanish rule. The monument consists of a pylon with a fountain at its base and sculptures surrounding it.  At the top are gilded bronze figures representing Columbia Triumphant, her seashell chariot being drawn by three hippocampi.

Inside the park I passed by some people just sitting on the grass and enjoying the beautiful and sunny day.

A little further is one of the Park's five cast-iron bridges, the Pine Bank Bridge.

Walking further, I passed the Heckscher Ballfields where the leaves of the  trees surrounding the area were starting to change color.

Nearing the Tavern on the Green, I realized that the historic structure was under renovation when I saw this sign. I hope the renovation will preserve the original structure.

Across Tavern on the Green is Sheep Meadow, home to the Park's flock of sheep until the 1930s.  The sheep and shepherd were housed in a Victorian building which became the Tavern on the Green restaurant. As usual, the meadow, which is the Park's first Quiet Zone, is always full of people relaxing and enjoying the day.

After Sheep Meadow, I turned east so I could drop by the Bethesda Fountain, the heart of Central Park. The Angel of the Waters is always an inspirational sight.

I then walked back west to see the newly restored Cherry Hill Fountain. The fountain is at the center of the Cherry Hill Concourse, which was originally built as a scenic carriage turnaround with the fountain at its center and functioning as a watering trough for horses.

From the concourse, I took a small path which led me to The Lake.  A lot of people were boating and looking at the jewel of The Lake, the Bow Bridge.  Named for its graceful shape, the bridge is easily recognizable for its role in many movies, television shows, and commercials.

Across The Lake, the leaves on the trees in The Ramble are already changing colors.

I then crossed the Oak Bridge to walk inside The Ramble.  The Ramble is a lush woodland composed of 38 acres of winding paths, rustic bridges, streams and small open glades. From Wiki .. 
The Ramble was intended as a woodland walk through highly varied topography, a "wild garden" away from carriage drives and bridle paths, to be wandered in, or to be viewed as a "natural" landscape from the formal lakefront setting of Bethesda Terrace or from rented rowboats on the Lake.

At the heart of the ramble, I looked up and saw the different colors of autumn.  Such a pretty sight, it made me smile.

I went out The Ramble at its east side, exiting near Cedar Hill. From there, I walked towards north at the back of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw this big Canadian maple tree, most of it already turned red. As I near the tree, I saw this lady painting it.

Then, instead of proceeding north, I walked back a little bit as that tree was near the Obelisk or Cleopatra's Needle, which is the oldest man-made object in Central Park. Did you know that transferring the 71-foot, 244-ton granite monument from Egypt to New York in 1880 took 112 days from the time the Obelisk touched upon the banks of the Hudson River until it reached the Park? 112 days, imagine that!

The obelisk is also near Turtle Pond, home to five kinds of turtles who live in the pond all year round. The pond is located near Belvedere Castle and the Delacorte Theater.

North of the pond is the Great Lawn, a sprawling 55 acres of green pastures.  It is host to annual concerts such as the New York Philharmonic, as well as other memorable performances by world-class acts. I still love to watch the September 1981 reunion concert of Simon and Garfunkel held on this lawn and attended by more than half a million people. I can still hear the words ..  

New York, lookin' down on Central Park ..

At the northern end of the Great Lawn is Arthur Ross Pinetum, a four-acre landscape that features 17 different species of pine trees. I think this is the only place in the park where the leaves of the trees stay green in autumn. 

I then crossed the 86th Street Transverse Road and arrived at the edge of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. A favorite of joggers, the reservoir is famous for its 1.58 mile track that encircles the 106-acre body of water.

I got off the reservoir track and walked along the bridle path. The leaves on the trees along the path were starting to change colors, too.

An explosion of colors greeted me when I reached the southern end of the North Meadow. The trees were a burst of reds, oranges and yellows.

The 23-acre North Meadow has 12 fields used for soccer, touch football, baseball and softball. It was already nearing sundown when I passed by and there were still some players on the field.

Yellow leaves carpet the East Drive as I walked along heading north towards the Conservatory Garden.

Unfortunately, the Conservatory Garden closes at dusk and I was no longer able to go inside.  Passing by Fort Fish, I came across the bench dedicated to Andrew H. Green, the park comptroller during the 19th century.  
Although the name Andrew Haswell Green may not be as readily recognizable as Olmsted and Vaux, he actually played a significant role in the Parks system. First and foremost, he became known for his influential role in the unification of New York City, merging all five boroughs to make up Greater New York. For this achievement he was crowned the "Father of Consolidation," yet he was also responsible for making the Parks Commission an instrumental force in city planning.
The level of his commitment to beautifying the City culminated with the beginning of Central Park. In 1857, the Central Park Commission was established and given control of the Park. Led by Green, this was the City’s first planning agency. They decided to establish a contest to determine who would design the Park. The winners of course were Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who worked together to create The Greensward Plan. 

Finally, I reached Harlem Meer, at the northeast end of the Park.  The meer was named after the Dutch word for "small sea".

I was ready to lie down and rest after that long walk, Even the ducks at the Meer knew it was time to roost.

I marked my walk on the Park map, this was how it went ..

As I write this, the city is still struggling to restore things back to normal in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  I know a lot of trees in the park fell and I'm thankful for the Conservancy for all they do to take care of the Park make it a better place for all. I don't know if the colorful leaves will still be there for us to enjoy the autumn season. I count myself lucky I had seen the leaves turn before the hurricane blew them all away. I hope most of the trees will still be intact with their colorful leaves.

The pics I took of the autumn scenes at the park are on Flickr. They were taken during my walk there two weekends ago, and also this past weekend, just days before the hurricane. Enjoy! - Autumn in Central Park

No comments:

Post a Comment