Newest Review: ... tattoo. Admittedly I was there in the 1990s so it may be far better now. New York's general crime rate has tumbled over the decades but... more
Member Name: thedevilinme
Central Park (New York, USA)
Disadvantages: Scary at night
Central Park, the big green space in Manhattan, the park you see in every New York City romcom where the pretty girl drops her glove and the guy of her dreams just so happens to pick it up, be it Carey grant or Justine Timberlake, John Cusack or Ryan Reynolds, soon taking a horse and carriage ride around and through the park at night to seal the deal. It's where Harry met Sally, Woody enthused with Annie and Tom dithered over some Hanky Panky with Meg. What Woody Allen really got up to with his lovers overlooking Central Park we can no longer comment on for legal reasons.
Like Woody's love life, the reality of Central Park by night is less appealing, a place not to walk hand-in-hand and certainly not alone. Tourists' have actually been mugged sitting in those carriages it's that rough in certain places! It shuts for five hours every night for that reason alone in the busy tourist areas. In recent years the crime rate has tumbled though from over 1000 reported annual crimes to around 100 last year but it still carries a certain reputation on its big shoulders, like a swaggering thug in the Bronx does as he returns with your phone and wallet, a down payment on the next tattoo. Admittedly I was there in the 1990s so it may be far better now. New York's general crime rate has tumbled over the decades but that's down mainly to the no nonsense 32,000 head of NYPD in the city.
Its 843 acres stretches from Midtown Manhattan West 59th street to North 110th and the rectangular park kept arrow straight on each side by Fifth Avenue on the east and Central Park West on the other, blocked in by Central park North and South. It's officially just 6% of Manhattan but appears much bigger than that when you look precariously down from the top of the majestic Empire State Building at the majestic green oblong. It's rich with trees and shrubs and the gaps filled with play areas, twinkling lakes, Gazebos and sprawling grass areas to take the sun.
It's a park for everyone, and I mean everyone, even in the daytime daring and promiscuous gay men using the parks to 'cottage' in the bushes and quite a shock to see naked men jumping out of the shrubbery when you are a tourist wandering through the more intimate parts of the park. If gay men have a fault it's that kind of activity that bugs me. It was one of many seedy let downs in New York when I visited the city. I was surprised just how much litter there was there and lack of things to do compared to the other great cities of the world. New York is just those amazing skyscraper that hug and hang over Central Park.
The Park stretches for six miles although the main tourist action and bustle is in the middle bit. The top end past the big reservoir lake is a bit more urban and lively and so don't expect to get your ball back in impromptu kick-around. You can go boating on the Harlem Meer right at the top, a small lake, or take in the many eateries here, great hotdogs and ethnic eats to be had. All the park sports like basketball and baseball can be played here and you can even play cricket or do some crown green bowling if you so choose, open air chess and checkers for the more cerebral. Don't challenge the locals at speed chess as they are very good.
There is an open air theatre near the reservoir and as you drift down to mid town there are lots of picnic spaces and smaller lakes to relax by. Its here they have the big pop concerts. This is where the carriage rides start and end and the areas that feature mostly in those movies, including that ice rink and the fountain. The park has two of each.
There are some surprising rock formations in the park for the kids to clamber around on and some hidden pools and little play areas for mischievous further fun. If the kids like nature then there are wildlife sanctuaries and museums to poke around in. Everything you want in the park is there, the sixth biggest urban space in the world and the biggest in America. The park also has some monuments and statues to tick off with the Alice in Wonderland one rather popular. But as with most things in America they don't have any real history and so what they call history tends to be faux and cheesy, like Belvedere Castle, a converted garden folly made to look like the presidents house in the park. Clinton Fort is the only genuine history there that I recall and part of the American Revolution encampments.
In general though it's the sanctuary of the city in the summer and you can escape all the expensive things to do and places to eat and drink there. The open spaces in the sun are great to drift off to sleep as the honking horns and noisy obnoxious New Yorkers merge into one and a welcome snooze overtakes you. I recall sitting there listening to Man United on the World Service overcome Spurs to in the league, a commentary on my chunky old radio that gathered curious looks as it did eager British wanting to know other English football results on a beautiful New York morning.
Summary: New Yorks only park
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