01.10.2013 - 01.10.2013
Breakfast at 8pm. The TV was on and the United States Federal Government Shutdown was all over the news and as a tourist and not being familiar with the American politic system it took a while before you really understood what it was about. It was simply about budget disagreements between Democrats and Republicans and that the US had international loans over its maximum limit. But the news also focused on the so called Obama Care which means that 15% of the US population (otherwise completely uninsured) is covered by Obama Health Care Law. The Republicans wanted to revoke Obama Care to ease the already stretched economy but when the Democrats didn’t agree to that the Republicans put a spoke in Obama’s wheel and forced the government into Federal Government Shutdown.
Neither my friend nor I knew what that meant for us as tourists but according to the New York Times they had closed the Statue of Liberty… and we had tickets for Statue of Liberty for tomorrow! So we were hoping this would be a short thing (but now later on we all know it went on much longer). But today we had planned for a whole day in Central Park. We walked along Broadway to the southwest corner of Central Park. First we planned on renting bikes but you are only aloud to bicycle along the bigger roads in the park so we cancelled that idea. So if you’re planning on visiting Central Park – don’t rent any bikes. Walk instead. It’s worth it!
Facts about Central Park…
Central Park is a 3,4 km2 green square (4 x 0,8 km) in Manhattan, New York. In 1853 the decision was made to build a green area, but the area needed to be “cleansed out” of its inhabitants before the project could start. Most people lived in small villages like Seneca Village, Harsenville and Piggery District and were poor white people, free Afro-Americans or residents with British or Irish origin. They estimate the residents in the area were about 1600 people before the villages were leveled to the ground to give place to Central Park. The park was opened already in 1857. It wasn’t as big as today and was then situated in New York’s northern outskirts and not until many decades later the park had become an oasis surrounded by skyscrapers. A competition was announced in 1858 to design and develop Central Park that was won by landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstedt and the architect Calvert Vaux.
The construction began the very same year and continued during American Civil War and was completed in 1873. The park has millions of visitors every year and became a National Historic Landmark in 1962. Central Park consists of several natural lakes but also founded ponds. The forest seems natural but is substantially planted and about 4 million trees are planted in the park. The park has extensive pathways that have become popular jogging tracks for the inhabitants of New York. Central Park also consists of bridle paths, two ice rinks and Central Park Zoo. You have the opportunity to rent a bicycle to ride along the larger roads or rent a boat for a tour on one of the lakes in Central Park. Strawberry Fields is the memorial in John Lennon’s honor, after being shot outside his home in the Dakota Building next to Central Park December 8th, 1980. So across from his home is the memorial Imagine in Strawberry Fields and fans from all over the world gathers to participate in the annual memorial.
We entered the park through Columbus Circle in the southwest corner and walked towards east and passed Gapstowe Bridge and Inscope Arch on the way to the statue Dancing Goat, a playful bronzed statue near the Central Park Zoo. But we passed the Zoo and walked to the famous statue Balto instead. A portrait of the sled dog Balto a Siberian husky who was the leading dog in his sled team transporting diphtheria cures in Alaska in early 20th century. This achievement has led up to a sled dog race in Alaska organized every year.
Then we walked towards Literary Walk, probably the most famous pathway in Central Park. A long alley lined by big maple trees, also called the Mall as I’m sure most of you have seen pictures on during the fall when the leafs changes color to an ocean full of red, yellow and orange leafs. Today it was about +25 centigrade and sunny so the fall seemed far away. Such shame since we were hoping to see some of the beautiful autumn colors.
We had a look at Eagle and Pray Statue standing close to the Mall. Then we walked via Navy Terrace towards the statue Alice in Wonderland. This impressive sculpture was given to all the children in New York and both children and adults are allowed to climb up on the statue. We then walked towards east and found Charles B Stover Bench which is a big bench made out of granite. It’s a special design that amplifies a whispering person’s voice at one end of the bench to the other person at the opposite end of the bench. My friend and I tried it and it did work! After that we headed for the Romeo and Juliet Statue but I must say it wasn’t that impressive compared to the other statues we already had seen.
Time had passed by and we were really hungry. We left Central Park for lunch and sat down in Theodore Roosevelt Park and chilled for a while. The sun was broiling and it was hot even in the shadows. Back in Central Park we walked over Oak Bridge and the view over the Lake from this bridge is well-known around the world so that’s a must in Central Park! When we were walking along the Lake we noticed a small building down at the water’s edge. A trail led us there so we took a look. Inside a young woman prepared for a romantic lunch and had created a heart out of rose leafs. She told us she prepared for a proposal. So romantic! She also asked us if it was enough rose leafs or if she should spread some more. “All over the place!” we said.
Then we headed for Strawberry Fields and John Lennon’s memorial Imagine. We sat down on the benches for a while listening on a street musician sitting there playing his guitar. After that we took a quick look at the elegant statue the Falconer. A bronzed statue sculptured by George Blackall Simonds. We then walked back to the Mall and sat down in the shadows created by the big maple trees. We sat there for over an hour resting and just being in the moment.
When we were finished with Central Park for the day we walked 6th Ave south towards our hostel. It’s amazing how many souvenir and gift shops there are in New York. Everywhere! And in the end they all sell the same things. When we got to Times Square we found a place selling Frozen Yoghurt. We just had to buy some! The heat and sugar rush made it irresistible. And it was sooooo good! After some food we took a power nap up in our room before hitting the streets again in the evening for some shopping. We bought a few pieces at least. We now had to fill up the suitcases we bought the other day before leaving New York Before we went to bed we searched the internet like crazy to see if Statue of Liberty was closed tomorrow. And everything pointed in that direction. But we agreed we would go down to Battery Park (where the ferry departure from) and see for ourselves what was going on.