Monday, July 31, 2006

Manhattan Snapshot: Riverside Park

Someday when I sell my apartment somewhere in the realtor's ad will surely be the words "steps from Riverside Park." Now in the language of Manhattan realty that could mean anything from 3 blocks and a subway ride to 3 steps. In my particular case it is less than half a block. I am also lucky enough to have an entrance to the park right at the end of my street. Riverside Park will always have a special meaning to me because my Jack Russell Terrier, Sadie, used to make sure I got there every single day. You'd think it might be the other way around, but believe me, I had little choice in the matter. I was well acquainted with the daily progress of the bulb flowers in spring, the cherry trees, the hydrangea and in the fall watched the gradual turning of the leaves every day. Sadie is gone a year and a half now and I must confess I get to the park maybe once a month. Anyway, today being a beautiful summer day, I got out there with my camera to take a couple snapshots for the blog.

Riverside Park was the brainchild of Robert Moses who is responsible for many of the public works projects in New York City and its environs from the 1920s through the '50s. The park was designed to conceal the Harlem line railroad tracks which run along the west side of Manhattan. An embankment was built over them and a park was planned which included a boat basin at 79th street and the Henry Hudson Parkway. One might think it odd to plan what is essentially a highway right through the middle of a park, but Robert Moses was in love with automobiles and was quite famous for his "parkways." These were beautifully designed roads through park-like settings built at a time when driving was considered a pleasurable leisure time activity rather than a workaday necessity. Moses was often criticized as being classist as these parkways were (and are still) for private passenger cars only, no commercial traffic allowed. This means of course that any poor slob having to take mass transportation was not able to take advantage of these lovely scenic roads.

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At 9:56 AM, Blogger judy said...

Thanks, Michael, for the lovely trip to the park and the informative writing. The green of the park and the water are a welcome respite in this heat.


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