On a recent trip to New York City, we made sure to visit Central Park one evening and we are so glad we did! Neither of us is a big city person and New York is one of the biggest big cities. So we spent some time in Central Park, getting just a small bite of what we would consider the tasty core of the Big Apple.
We went to check out Central Park because it was a place that Jessi really wanted to see on this trip. We had always heard of the park but didn’t really know much about it. Central Park met our expectations in some ways but was surprising in other ways. It’s often described as a giant nature area in the middle of New York City. It certainly met that expectation. However, I had heard it was where you could get away from the city, where you wouldn’t feel part of the city as much. Maybe it’s because we aren’t big-city people, but we noticed the city a lot while we were in Central Park. That’s mostly because the city’s activity surrounds Central Park on all four sides.
For instance, one of the things that struck us is the juxtaposition of parkland versus city. At one point, we were standing in front of a pond with cattails and a beautiful old stone bridge. But looking up, you don’t see the sky as much as you see skyscrapers. That is baffling. As Jessi noted, it seems beyond belief considering none of those were there when the park was created in 1858. It shows how much New York has grown around the serenity and beauty of Central Park.
We took some extra time standing near the pond while trying not to look up — we needed a break from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis we were visiting.
Finding things we didn’t expect
One of the great things we discovered about Central Park is how huge it is – 843 acres with a perimeter of 6.1 miles. There is a lot of variety and within this very large park, there are small things you need to make sure you take a look at. Something that surprised us was the rock formations and geology that you see there. We also found things we had no idea were in the park. These included a memorial to soldiers killed in World War I where memorial trees were planted and marked by stone markers, although it’s mostly just the stone markers left now. We also discovered that many parts of the Children’s District — including an awesome carousel — are still available. And they have protected a grove of old American elm trees so they can survive even longer.
One of the interesting things we found was how the park was designed in 1858. Designers wanted a place for residents to get away from the city. At the time, they were dealing with horse-drawn carriages and iron wheels on cobblestones. To allow the residents of New York to get away, they built the road to go under the park. That continues today, even though it is automobiles instead of horse-drawn carriages. But there are no vehicles in the park as they are all traveling underneath. That does help to alleviate some of the traffic noise.
A tremendous job has been done preserving the part of Manhattan encompassed by Central Park. While the park has fallen into decline for various financial or political reasons a few different times since its construction, a person or group has stepped in each time to restore and renovate this treasure for future generations.
Central Park is a place worth experiencing
We did not expect to see some of the things we saw, like rock formations or the geography of how Central Park fit into the New York City landscape. Like many people, we don’t know much about New York City beyond what we see on TV and in the movies. That is unfortunate and we do want to learn more now. It was interesting to see it all and have the experiences we had. That goes not just for Central Park but Times Square, Ellis Island, and Liberty Island.
If you are traveling to New York City, carve out some time to see the amazing sights. And especially make certain you go through Central Park. Try to appreciate the park’s size and all it has to offer. It really does provide a respite from city life.
In just the little bit of time we were able to spend there, we discovered that Central Park truly is a place to enjoy. Whether you are walking your dog, pushing your child around in a stroller, playing frisbee, laying on the grass to read a book, or sitting on a rock to people-watch, Central Park offers something for just about everyone.