So I took some pictures with the trusty iphone today, because wow.
When I lived in Hell’s Kitchen I spent a lot of time in Central Park. It is a magnificent respite in the midst of the most bustling part of midtown, an enormous oasis lush and gorgeous all year round. The plantings there are well-established: soaring trees, thick ground cover, thriving shrubs, perfect patches of lawn. As you walk into it, the din of city noise hushes behind you until it disappears. Depending on the the season and the path taken, it is soon replaced by rustling leaves, roaring fountains, laughing children, clip-clopping horses, the New York Philharmonic playing, chirping birds, or house music booming for the dancing rollerskaters. When thick snow falls it is utterly silent.
I missed it when I moved downtown. The part of Hudson River Park that borders my neighborhood was under construction then, and all but the bike path was barricaded behind tall plywood walls. As the park opened in sections over the first few years I lived on Perry Street, I was thrilled. The piers and walkways are beautifully landscaped; the clean architecture and whimsical sculptures bring a sense of serenity and joy. There is a lovely fountain at the end of Christopher Street. Patches of vibrant flowers bloom from early spring to late fall (though the trees are still young and provide little shade in the August heat). Sailboats often cruise the river at sunset. And as you walk further out on the piers, the noise from West Street fades to a distant hum until you can hear the water softly lapping at the pylons.
I love beautiful public spaces. Of course if the Paul Ryans of the world had their way, Central Park would be sold off to condo developers and my beloved piers would become the private playgrounds of Wall Street princes. New Yorkers pay ridiculous taxes, and I am glad that a portion of it goes toward transforming decrepit piers into gorgeous spaces for everyone to enjoy. Even that @$$hole kid of eleven or twelve who amused himself by ripping clamps off of the irrigation system and tossing them into the river and making fraudulent 911 calls from the emergency phone. I mean, where else but a public space would I have been able to inform him — twice — that he is, in fact, an @$$hole? If that’s not a valuable public good worth paying for, well, I just don’t know what is.