2013 Autumn Leaves on the East Coast – Day 26 Part 1

NEW YORK – from peace to war

Penn StationWednesday – Going by the itinerary, today is extremely full on and just as well the weather is looking great.  The Dakota Building; Central Park; New York Met and a Ranger Ice Hockey match – OMG I am tired just thinking about it.  As our holiday draws to a close we seem not to have slackened off!  Would you expect anything else?

All of this (apart from the ice hockey game) is about a 45 minute walk uptown or we can catch the Subway from Penn Station to W72nd Street.  We decide on the train! So off we go – –

I will split today into two parts – that way I can include more photos for you.

Batteries charged and cameras ready to snap those Kodak moments it is down into the bowels of Penn Station and a short ride later we emerge into the New York sunshine.  About a 7 minute walk later we are out the front of The Dakota Building.  Now everyone knows what happened here with the death of John Lennon so I will not go into details about that, you can look it up for yourself if you wish.  I will, however go into details about the building –

The DakotaThe DakotaHISTORY LESSON : The Victorian-era German Renaissance, gabled and turreted co-op apartment building at 72nd Street and Central Park West is best known as the home shared by John Lennon and Yoko Ono from 1972 to 1980.  It is a square structure with a porte cochère (carriage gate) leading to a central courtyard that served as a turnaround for carriages. While the outside looks fairly tame, inside, no two of the luxuriously appointed apartments are alike, as many were tailored to the specifications and whims of their first occupants.   Even when the Dakota opened in 1884, it was already impossible to rent an apartment.  An article praising the new building in The New York Times generated a flood of aspiring residents, but by then all 65 original apartments were occupied.

It really is a beautiful building, unfortunately we are not allowed inside – there are two rather insistent guards at the entrance – so a few snaps outside and as it is directly across the road from Central Park – off we go.  There are many, many people trying to hire out their carriages, bikes and anything else that can be used to get around the park.  We politely smile and decline, we will trust our much travelled tootsies.

Strawberry FieldsFor John LennonFirst stop Strawberry Fields. Sound familiar? Of course it does.  Strawberry Fields is a living memorial to the world-famous singer, songwriter and peace activist, John Lennon. During his career with the Beatles and in his solo work, Lennon’s music gave hope and inspiration for world peace and his memory and his mission lives on.

The iconic black and white Imagine mosaic, designed by a team of artists from the Italian city of Naples, lies in the center of Strawberry Fields.  Named after another famous song by John Lennon, “Imagine” evokes a vision and hope for a world without strife, war and conflict. Additionally, there is a bronze plaque that lists the more than 120 countries that planted flowers and donated money for the maintenance of the area; they have also endorsed Strawberry Fields as a Garden of Peace.  There is a busker strumming his guitar and singing lyrical Lennon tunes – all very quiet and respectful – and actually he is not bad.

Strawberry FieldsCentral ParkAround every turn there are more wonderful Autumn scenes.  We find a lovely little cafe (sorry cannot remember the name) where we partake of some wonderful coffee, rest our feet and re-group. It must be a popular spot as there are quite a few people here already at this time or morning – or maybe it is the only place open – but nevertheless the service is good and it is wonderful to sit here in the surprising quiet considering we are in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world.  The only noise is the occasional siren in the distance but that soon fades and we are back in the land of tranquility.

With our engines refueled by the coffee it is time to move on to the rest of the park – well as much as we can cover.  The trees are incredibly decked out in their Autumn finery and they really are a treat for the senses.  Here are a couple of photos for you so that you can get the message.

Central ParkCentral Park What a hoot! Taking photos, looking for memory leaves and trying to keep from getting run over by the maintenance vans on the road, all makes for an exciting morning.

Around every turn in the road there is something of interest be it statues, fountains or ponds. Here are some more photos for you –

Victor HerbertBeethovenBethesda FountainTwo famous composers – on the left is Victor Herbert. Composer of many a fine operetta including Naughty Marietta and Sweethearts which were made into films with those immortal Stars of the Silver Screen Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.  Then in the centre we have the composer Beethoven.  Do I really have to go into details here?

On the right is the Bethesda Fountain.  This fountain features a 2.5 metre bronze ‘Angel of the Waters’ who stands above four small cherubim representing health, purity, temperance, and peace.  The angel herself carries a lily in one hand while the other remains outstretched, poised in the action of delivering a blessing on the water pouring from around her feet and into the basin at the bottom of the fountain.  Just to sit in this quiet oasis, watch the birds and listen to the water flowing is wonderful.  Obviously everyone else in the park has the same idea so after the noise starts to generate we move on.

OK – more discoveries – wonderful waterways and dark, uninviting tunnels.

Central ParkCentral Park I for one, would not stretch my daring to venture forth into this tunnel.  Reminds me of the opening to the underworld.  This is one large park!  Yes, yes I know that everything you read on the web tells you how big it is, but until you are actually walking around it you don’t realise.  Bit like standing in front of the Great Pyramid in Cairo!

Around another corner and – everything is blocked off, well, most everything.  Apparently they are filming some TV sitcom or soap – definitely of no interest so the alternate route around comes into force and yep – more colour (you can never see enough) and another point of interest.

Central ParkHans Christian AndersenIsn’t the photo with the lamp post great (even if I do say so myself).  Makes you just want to sit on the bench, maybe read a good book or watch life pass.  Yep, I could do that no probs.  Just around the corner from it is a wonderful statue of Hans Christian Andersen.

Best known for his children’s stories such as The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling, Hans is holding a book while the little duckling listens on.  During the summer months, there is a story telling program and children flock to the statue to listen to the wonderful stories.

This is a wonderful expanse called Conservatory Water.  An ornamental pond was constructed as a reflecting pool for a glass conservatory, but when the plan for a structure was abandoned, the water body became the popular model boat pond.

Central ParkIn 1993, the Central Park Conservancy refurbished the Boathouse’s terrace, incorporating the benches and planting beds.  The Conservancy later restored the pond, replacing the concrete stone with durable and attractive granite.

Alice in WonderlandAround another colourful array of trees we find Alice in Wonderland and her friends.  You all know the story by Lewis Carroll – either by reading the book or seeing the Disney film.  It is a great tale of adventure after Alice falls through a rabbit hole into a land of imaginary and wonderful creatures.

A great statue for children to climb, we are lucky not to have too many today and we patiently wait for their parents to take photos – everyone is so thoughtful here – what a pleasant surprise – everyone takes their turn without any unpleasant situations arising.

We are glad to have navigated the paths of Central Park and have ended up at the exits to Fifth Avenue where we will walk for about 10 minutes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Time to stop – grab yourself a coffee and take in what you have already experienced in Central Park.  Next stop THE MET and all that great history.

Highlight so far – the wonderful Autumn colour.

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