Before I lived here and even once I’d lived there but hadn’t gotten out of the “OMG NYC!!” tourist phase, I never would have understood the importance of parks (green spaces) in New York City.
Obviously, yes there is Central Park that greets you like a scene from a movie as you fly over Manhattan on your decent to LGA airport. Sure you’ve heard of Astoria Park and Prospect park, probably mentioned someplace in a Law and Order episode. But these are just names. And there are so many more names; Van Courtlan Park, Riverside Park, Isham Park, Battery Park, High Line, Madison Square Park… the list could go on. These names and green blocks on iMap are the only way most people know New York parks.
OK, let’s rewind to last weekend or summers past… or let’s fast forward to many more weekends this coming summer and place ourselves in Sheep’s Meadow, Central Park, NYC. This is a massive green lawn on the southwest end of the park edged by scattered old trees and broken up by the occasional rock formation. On a sunny day with summer, this park comes alive. It looks like a green beach covered in a sea of sunbathing, picnicking, frolicking people. I kid you not- every age, race, walk of life, speedo, kite, Frisbee, and bikini are out in the park to socialize and soak up the rays. People reading, sleeping, talking, walking, snacking, drinking (what- no not drinking in public… nope nope nope) and all coexisting- enjoying the same sun and time to relax.
I’m a big fan of taking my beach blanket and reading in the sun. If I’m out with friends of course chatting and catching up on life is a must. Now that Megan is taking Advanced Wine (I’m sure there is an official name but I don’t know it) I’ll quiz her on flashcards. People watching is an all time favorite and pretty much the most amusing things to do. Sometimes it’s hard to think of all of us busy frustrated New Yorkers actually taking time to smell the flowers. This city is portrayed as cold and rough and certainly not full of people who will strip out of their business suit to lay in grass on a Friday afternoon! But believe it or not, that’s exactly what happens.
You have to hand it to the NYC Parks Dept. They take great pride in maintaining the cities beautiful park space. I’ve never sat in the grass and been afraid of sitting on a glass bottle or found the trash cans way to full and blowing everywhere. There are free events of everyone throughout the summer, and plenty of space for everyone. There is very little judgment and I’ve really only experienced nice people.
You also have to hand it to the people that enjoy this park (and all the other parks)… who respect the space and everyone else there. We are all stuck in this city, in one way or another, but we all want to enjoy the sun, the grass, and the chance to relax. I’m not just talking about this happening in Central Park, even the green space across from my apartment draws us locals to it’s slopping sun filled fields!
So, this summer, if you are in NYC or just visiting… stop the work, stop the tourist bus, and try relaxing like a true New Yorker!