Picnic in Central Park

July 2, 2015

At the question “What impressed you the most in New York City?” I reply, without further ado, Central Park!!! From the busy Fifth Avenue we headed to the popular Hyde Park. Right before it, we indulged some jazz music at the street, that cleared away the stress and prepared us for a stroll at one of the most filmed locations in the world. Bagels and a cheesecake in a paper bag, according to the American tradition, were our supplies for the picnic. The weather was better than we imagined and both locals and tourists poured into Central Park.

Unlike Greece, that sunbathing at a park would be a rather unusual thing, in New York everyone feels free to grab his/her bikini, a towel, sunscreen, a good book and lay in the sun right in the heart of Manhattan. The only thing that reminds you where you really are, are the skyscrapers on the background of a beautiful green scenery. The Park is enormous, as it runs from Harlem to Midtown Manhattan. It contains lakes, squares, theater, zoo, luna park, restaurants, cafeterias, fountains, statues and a net of streets proper for carriages and bicycles. In the summer a lot of events are happening here. Free Shakespeare in the park is a great chance to view a classic performance at an outdoor theater for free!

Our planning went as far as pre-buying our picnic meal. No thoughts whatsoever as to where we would sit. The rest of the people seemed much more prepared, laying on their towels and playing with their frisbees. The vibe was so relaxing and positive, that I would gladly spend the rest of my day there. Young people, families, kids, tourists, seniors, runners, cyclists, gathered at the ultimate urban Park in order to enjoy the amazing facilities and the summer sun.

The 157 years old park has gone through many phases. In 1850 it was full of swamps and livestock. The landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won the competition in 1858 and put the grounds for what we call Central Park today. In the seventies, the park had been influenced by the overall urban blight. In 1980, in the almost bankrupted city in New York, a group of spirited NewYorkers was assigned the tough task of the park’s redevelopment. Without any financial support, they had to oust the audacious rats, erase the graffitis, vanish the dunes of rubbish. And so they did! The voluntary initiative of the Central Park Conservancy  brought back the largest green lung of Manhattan. Learning a lesson from this story, I stick to the miracles that could be realised even during hard times by individual initiatives.

“I just want to go through Central Park and watch folks passing by. Spend the whole day watching people. I miss that.” Barack Obama

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