Sunday, August 23, 2009

Morning walks and storms in Central Park

I’m a walker. I’ve belonged to a gym off and on since moving to Manhattan but I inevitably end up getting my exercise for free, outside. Living here can be stressful (no kidding!) and rather than waiting in line for an elliptical machine at 6:30 in the morning, I’d rather be outside, watching the birds or boats or trees swaying in the breeze. Currently I live on the Upper East Side and while I’m itching to move back downtown, I’ll be forever grateful for living uptown because I have gotten to know Central Park.

What surprised me most about Central Park is how truly transporting it is. As soon as I get to East Drive, the traffic noise falls away and the sound of birds chirping takes over. Over 150 years ago the designer of the Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, took a derelict and undesirable swath of Manhattan and transformed it into what today has become an oasis of calm and stunning beauty. It’s hard to believe this landscape is completely man-made!

My favorite part of my morning walk is the Reservoir. I try to time it so I’m just getting there as the sun is rising and if I’m lucky, I’ll see a beautiful reflection of the sun on the windows of the apartment buildings on Central Park West.

Last week a storm burst through town that was so violent it didn't shock me to hear it downed trees in Central Park. Just how devastating became apparent when I went for my walk; it hit hardest at the Reservoir.

The storm completely destroyed over 200 trees, including a spectacular chestnut tree said to have been placed by Olmsted himself, and caused severe damage to hundreds more.

It’s a massive loss to the Central Park both aesthetically and financially. If you love the Park like I do, consider contributing to a fund set up to help defray the cost of the clean-up effort which will easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everyone who has lived in New York City knows it is the green spaces that help keep this place livable, civilized, and inspiring.

No comments: