The splendor of Central Park (Part I)

5/21/22

I had visited Central Park once before, almost exactly three years ago. It blew me away. I spent six hours walking the park from bottom to top. The last 80% or so of that walk took place during a gentle but soaking rain; I was thoroughly drenched by the time I hopped on the subway back to my Airbnb in Brooklyn! But the rain didn’t diminish my initial experience of this incredible place.

When I returned a few days ago, it was a beautiful sunny day in the low 70s. Truly perfect weather. And once again, this place captivated me.

This time I was on my bike, and I pedaled up there from my host’s apartment in the Lower East Side. As I’ve mentioned already, cycling in Manhattan was a bit of a shock to my system. But when I arrived in the park, my calm returned… except for one funny bit of “New York character.” When I had just entered the park and was making my way north on the narrow, one-way designated bike line, I saw a man on a bike heading toward me in that lane, making me a bit uneasy and unsure how to pass safely. As he passed, he addressed me derisively: “Share the lane, four-eyes.” I was momentarily shocked and chagrined—here I was in New York, doing things wrong like a dumb tourist!—but then soon confirmed, via pavement markings, that he was the one violating protocol. (And “four-eyes”? Seriously, dude? As a born-and-bred New Yorker Facebook friend of mine quipped, his skill at insults seems to have petrified in the Eisenhower administration.) I laughed and decided I had officially been initiated into my New York stay.

The rest of my several hours in the park were magical. I took too many photos to fit well into one post, so I’ll plan to do a Part II tonight.

I even encountered a pedestrian in The Ramble who saw my Brompton and struck up a conversation, because just the previous night he had been online looking at them, and had nearly clicked the “purchase” button right then. I told him he should do it; he would not regret it. We talked about the bike, and I let him pick it up, folded, so that he could imagine what it would be like to carry it up to his 5th floor apartment with no elevator. I hope he does buy one!

Speaking of which, Manhattan is crawling with Bromptons. I have never seen so many in one place. I would say that within my first 36 hours there, I saw more Bromptons than I have seen in my entire eight months visiting urban areas around the country so far. It makes sense, because it is such a dense city, with such a robust subway, it is similar to the Brompton’s birthplace in London (in 1975) in terms of what the bike was designed for. It’s fun to see them all over!

Here is the first batch of photos from the park.

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