New York’s on the mind again.
The day after my trek through Chelsea and Greenwich, I decided to explore Central Park on foot. I planned to walk around the lake and people-watch for a while. My feet slightly hurt from roaming the West Village 24 hours prior, but I decided to suck it up. However, I actually didn’t have to.
Enter: the little bike rental place on 7th Street.
I passed it on my way to the park and decided to give it a go. Five minutes later, I emerged from the shop with a park map and my two-wheeled friend in tow. I had exactly one hour until the bike had to be returned. Central Park was mine to explore.
I wasted no time heading towards the lake; en-route, I zoomed past dogs, tourists, chess-players, painters, screaming children, and joggers. The sun was out that June morning, and the heat was much more mild than it had been the day before. The trees also provided some good shade.
Central park is somewhat of a paradox. It’s considered a lush, natural paradise– an escape from the busy urban grid of Manhattan. However, the park itself is essentially manmade. It’s just as constructed as the city that surrounds it.
(Note: Very sunny days don’t make for very high-quality pictures.)
Radio City Music Hall + Rockefeller Center
After parting with the bike, I wandered around 7th street and ended up around the area nearby Radio City Music Hall. Magnolia Bakery stood at the corner, and I momentarily stepped in for an Arnold Palmer. I then proceeded to explore the neighboring hub.
This little vendor was a stone’s throw away from Radio City Music Hall. The immense myriad of scripts offered here was more than enough to fulfill any film aficionado’s wildest dreams; it’s quite the rarity to find Star Wars AND Rear Window in the same place, so this was a very nice surprise!
After ogling at the scripts for 20 minutes, I continued on 49th street. The Rockefeller center soon came into view, as did the contemporary sculpture Van Gogh’s Ear.
… And then I walked some more.
I caught some rays of the robust noontime sun as I traversed 5th Avenue. Then I turned West at 42nd Street, and was subsequently greeted by a Zara in the corner. Needless to say, there was a brief interlude at the shop for some air conditioner and browsing.
When I emerged, I found myself right across the street from Bryant Park and the New York Public Library.
… So there was yet another brief interlude for observation. Two lazy labradors sat somberly on the lawn, vaguely reminiscent of two sun-basking elephant seals. In the quiet shade, intellectuals read their newspapers and pored over their freshly-obtained library treasures. Suit-clad businesspeople pecked away at their laptops. Two elderly men hunched over a game of chess, their brows furrowed in contemplation.
After a good half-hour of people-watching, it was time to return to the hotel in Times Square.
… Where I then proceeded to people-watch from new heights, of course.
The abundance of smog was ridiculous. As was the number of tourists sporting Crocs in Times Square. The shouts of street performers, the shuffling feet of pedestrians, and the honks of cars all blended into a homogeneous urban hum. An ad for Hamilton on Broadway faded on and off of the side of a building. The gritty neon signs for subway stations and pizza parlors slowly flickered to life as the yellow sea of taxis surged forward below me. Some might call the scene grotesque. Others might be profoundly appalled.
But I found myself very drawn to the city. It’s fast-paced and modern, yet nostalgic and sluggish. It’s a blissful daydream, but also a robust slap in the face. It’s everything it could ever be. And it calls upon you to become part of its rhythm, whether slow or fast or terrible or beautiful.
New York’s been around for quite a while. It’s home to a countless number of stories, but it always rewrites itself; it shifts and reforms with time, much like an El Anatsui tapestry. It invites you to find your own spot within its pages. And to explore the rest of the story at your leisure.