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The Conservatory Garden in Central Park

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I recently took a free tour of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. Joe, who hails from Wisconsin, was the volunteer/gardener leading us on this tour.  His love for the garden showed as he went into detail about the annual and seasonal plantings, while winding us through the 6 acre maze. It was mainly a horticultural event with a few history facts tacked on.  We learned that this was the 2nd most dangerous spot in Central Park in the 1970’s.  Good to know that  criminals appreciate beauty as well.  A lot has changed since then, in terms of safety, and now this part of the park is dominated by wedding ceremonies, Women’s Luncheons of the Central Park Conservancy, and tourists.

It’s worth noting that perhaps the end of summer is not the best time to visit, nonetheless, the majestic year-round beauty of the Central Park’s only formal garden, keeps everyone’s senses on high alert.  If one wanted to be awed by nature at its very extreme, then it would be worth to visit at the end of May when the wisteria blooms. Not to be missed are the crabapple trees that come into their own around the same time, with blush pink that fades to white.

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Central Park

The Garden’s main entrance is through the Vanderbilt Gates located at 5th Avenue between 104th and 105th Streets.  These gates were made in Paris in 1894. They later  graced the Vanderbilt mansion on 5th Avenue and 58th Street before being donated and installed in 1939 at their present location. Once you enter you are immediately confronted with the Italian Garden, one of the three gardens that make up the Conservancy Garden. The other two being the French and English gardens. The Italian Garden includes the great expanse of lawn, the central fountain and the surrounding hedges bordered by two allees of crabapple trees. The steps at the western most end of the garden lead one up to the pergola, which is covered with wisteria. There are  13 medallions located on the walkway underneath the pergola. They are inscribed with the names of the 13 original states.  When you’re perched up high on top of this walkway, you are confronted with an amazing view of the garden as well as the Cardinal Cook Health Care building, just across the street on 5th Avenue. It has this Spanish/Florida style, confusing many into thinking they’re not in the middle of NYC, but rather on some grand Palm Beach estate.

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Central Park 4

The north side of the garden is known as the French Garden. It includes a very pleasant fountain topped with a statue of “Three Dancing Maidens” which was once  part of the Samuel Untermyer estate in the Bronx. This part of the garden is known for it’s seasonal display of tulips, about 20,000 in all. Many of the flowers are donated by the public and later given back.  Come late autumn, the public is invited to pull out the mums and take them for themselves.  A win win situation.

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The southern part is known as the English Garden. In its center is a sculpture by Bessie Potter. It’s a tribute to Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author of the Secret Garden. When I visited there were a couple of painters enjoying the serenity of this intimate spot. Hostas, calla lilies and many other fragrant flowers surround the fountain in the middle and add to the sensory overload. It’s no wonder why artists choose this spot.

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Written by agnesbstanton

September 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Parks, Upper East Side

Sutton Place Park

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Sutton Place Park

At the easternmost end of 57th Street, there’s this little known park with a wild boar at its core.  Known as Sutton Place Park, it has a remarkable view of the 59th Street Bridge as well as the East River. Very few people visit this park so you are mostly assured of a quiet time. The wild boar was a gift from philanthropist Hugh Trumball Adams and was installed in 1972.  If you look carefully, you’ll notice that there are little toads, crabs, lizards and mice around the hoofs of the tender beast. The sculpture and its intricate details were copied from a replica done by Pietro Tacca called “Porcellino” in 1634. The original marble version, which both of these copies were based on, is housed in the Uffizi Museum in Florence.

Sutton Place Park is relatively small but could very well be on the course to expand. The adjacent Co-op, 1 Sutton Place South, has lost the privilege of leasing what could be termed their “backyard” from the city. As of November 2011, plans are being set to turn 1 Sutton Place South’s former greenery into a public park. Of course the shareholders cannot be too thrilled.

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                  1 Sutton Place South’s former private backyard, awaiting to be made publicSutton Place Park 3

Written by agnesbstanton

January 19, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Midtown East, Parks, Sutton

Creative Little Garden 530 E. 6th Street

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The is one of those parks you accidentally stumble upon, never imagining such a space exists in a metropolitan area like NYC. Not only does it have a long history within the community, it’s also an extremely serene visual indulgence. The Garden is open to the public. You can be a member for a minimal contribution and partake in some planting, weeding and all forms of “getting dirty”.

Creative Garden 2

Creative Garden 3

Written by agnesbstanton

January 7, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Posted in East Village, Parks

Washington Square Park (Its Beauty is transparent; Characters and artists abound)

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Mid-November is the time NYC gets saturated with color. As I take some of my favorite walks in the city I cannot help but admire the foliage. Just this saturday I was in Washington Square Park. A perfectly blue sky overhead and an energy of inspiration filled the four corners of the park that day. Colin Huggins was playing his baby grand. He’s known as the “Crazy Piano Guy”. Why crazy, I do not know. He’s been dragging his piano to the city’s parks for years while knocking out great tunes. Everyone just loved it.  Walking past him was a pleasure.

The street performers were doing what they always do, acrobatic maneuvers with some side jokes thrown in. Here’s a fun move. My yoga teacher wouldn’t mind if I finally learned this one myself.

Now these guys are a riot. Any film students doing a Hitchock remake? Well if you need birds these guys can help.

Just looking at the skyline with the beauty of the trees below, relaxes and invigorates me at the same time. Autumn in New York is truly special and I’m beginning to think that Spring in Paris cannot compare.

Written by agnesbstanton

November 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Posted in Parks, West Village

Carl Schurz Park

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This park is one of New York City’s best kept secrets. I love Carl Schurz Park because whenever I come here for a stroll, I immediately feel as if I’ve taken a trip to a far away land. It’s one of the most serene peaceful escapes you can have in a hustle and bustle city like New York. There are never really any tourists here. It is a park that you would only discover if you had a reason to come all the way to the East End between 84th and 90th Streets or if you happen to live nearby.

Roughly 14.9 acres, this park is part of the New York Department of Parks but has a dedicated volunteer group called the “Carl Schurz Park Associatation”.  They came together in the 1970’s in order to clean up the park’s playground and ensure that it was made safe for neighborhood children. Due to the economic turmoil during that era, the association did quit a bit more than just maintain the playground. They pooled resources and were able to transform the entire park one step at time. With their help, Carl Schurz Park has been able to look pristine and feel safe ever since.

I used to come to this park the few times when I was visiting 10 Gracie Square, but it wasn’t until this past spring of 2011 that I began to regularly spend time here. I had just had a baby and I needed to lose a few pounds, so I signed myself up for Strollercize classes. The morning class at 9am took place at Carl Schurz Park with Lizzie our fun-loving instructor. I found this to be the most exciting way to get my body back into shape, which I was able to do, thank you very much. Thanks Lizzie!!!

I no longer need to do strollercize classes, but I continue to visit Carl Schurz Park. This summer I had a few picnics on the grass, along with long strolls on the promenade, watching the East River flow south one day and north on the next. I found Gracie mansion, located inside the park, to be a very iconic building. This federal style mansion is the official residence of the major of New York, although Mayor Bloomberg prefers to stay in his Beaux-Arts townhouse located at 17 E. 79th St.

Another icon of Carl Schurz Park is the Peter Pan Sculpture. Originally created in 1928 by Charles Andrew Hafner, this bronze sculpture of Peter Pan spent its early years in a fountain located in the lobby of the old Paramount Theater in Times Square. In 1975 it was donated to Carl Schurz Park and has been there ever since were it not for an incident that happened in 1999. Peter Pan mysteriously disappeared only to be later recovered from the bottom of the East River by the New York Police Department. No suspects were arrested and Parks Commissioner Stern made light of this by saying ” We thought his only enemy was Captain Hook”. Peter Pan was reinstalled more securely this time around, just in case another vandal decided to test out Peter Pan’s flying abilities again.

There’s lots to see and do at Carl Schurz Park such as basketball or hockey that can be played on the courts. Children have a wonderfully maintained playground with a fun water fountain in the summer. There are also two doggy parks, one for little dogs and the other for big ones. I also enjoy taking a jog once in a while on the promenade by the river. Do take a moment to visit Carl Schurz park this autumn, but keep it hush hush. I wouldn’t want the tourists to invade.


Written by agnesbstanton

October 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Parks, Upper East Side

Waterfalls in Manhattan

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Paley Park 3 E. 53rd St.

Known as a “pocket park” and sited as being one of the finest urban spaces in the Unites States, this park is all too easy to miss unless you know what you’re looking for. It is a privately-owned public space that was financed by the William S. Paley Foundation in memory of his father Samuel Paley. The site on which it stands was once the Stork Club until 1967 when it became the Paley Park. The dramatic 20 ft. waterfall looks especially lovely when its back lights come on in the evening hours. When in the neighborhood, the Paley Center for Media, formerly known as “The Museum of Television and Radio” is close by at 25 W. 52nd St. and worth checking out.

Greenacre Park 217 E. 51St.

This park has a rule about no photography which I didn’t realize until I got yelled at by the attendants who are always on duty. Oops! Being that it’s privately-owned, it has the right to make such rules. The photo I’ve attached below had to be taken from the sidewalk. It was first opened October 14, 1971 by the late Mrs. Jean Mauze, the former Abby Rockefeller. Designed by Hideo Sasaki with architect Harmon Goldstone serving as consultant, this park has a most unusual waterfall that cascades off of slightly cuspated granite rocks. Inside the park one really becomes oblivious to the outside world. All traffic noises are drowned out and peace proliferates. My favorite part of the park is the snack bar which serves some very reasonably-priced treats. Get your yummies along with a good book and settle in to some old-fashioned zoning out.

McGraw-Hill Mini Park Between 48th and 49th Streets in between 6th and 7th Ave.

This Park  serves as a walk-through in between 48th and 49th Streets and many busy mid-town workers enjoy the bypass on their way home from work especially after a long hard day at the office. I’ve seen more than one smile from people passing through, giving me the notion that this park definitely serves a purpose of uplifting one’s spirits. The waterfall itself is less typical and more interactive, letting you actually pass through it inside the tunnel, which is there to keep you from getting wet. The McGraw Building is next door and in order for the building to be built above 300ft. in height, the developers needed to give something back to the city, which they did by way of this public space.

East 72nd St. Between York Ave. and cul-de-sac ending in overlook onto East Rive and FDR Drive

I couldn’t find a story about this public space. Come to think of it, I couldn’t find any people there either. It’s a total secret unless you happen to accidentally wonder over.

Written by agnesbstanton

October 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Posted in Attractions, Parks