Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New York City Park Life

Image: Battery Park Gardens: a city oasis

If there is one thing I’ve noticed on this trip that did not make a major impression on me during my 2008 trip, it is the way New Yorkers love their parks. This could be because back then I visited during early spring, and the weather was not exactly conducive to the type of activities that one sees over the summer months.

I have no idea of the number of parks across New York City. Even the official government parks website states: “This is not an entirely exhaustive list of Park Properties. If you see something missing or have a suggestion of how we can improve this list, please contact us.”

Certainly thousands of parks must be listed on the site. I did make a half-hearted attempt to count the actual number, but decided I had better things to do with my life and my limited time in the city!
Image: Basketball courts found in almost every city park

While not all parks offer the same services or activities, I present here a partial list of some of the leisure activities I’ve seen taking place in New York City parks: table tennis, pentanque, billiards (on metal tables), tennis, handball, soccer games, basketball competitions, dog parks, children’s playgrounds, chess tables, walking groups and tours, family picnics, July 4th celebrations, dance classes, jogging and inline skating, film screenings, poetry readings, author talks, classical music concerts, theatre performances, rock concerts, Little League baseball, Ti Chi and yoga classes, sunbathing, swimming (a number of parks have swimming pools), boating and kayaking, bike hire/riding, and on and on.

I think it is fair to say that New York City parks are, in many ways, at the heart of community life in this amazing metropolis.

Image: Park water features are very popular, especially in summer

New York parks are filled with a multitude of colourful plants and flowers; trees of all shapes, colours and sizes; large lakes and water features (which might double as ice-skating rinks during winter months); huge swathes of well kept lawn areas and good walking and bicycle paths; and numerous statutes and examples of public art. Some have extensive botanic gardens and zoos; others house world famous museums and galleries; and all are well patronized and filled with activity, often late into the evening.

Of course you will also find restaurants, cafés, and small mobile food and drink stalls throughout the parks, along with the ubiquitous mobile ice-cream vendors that seem to appear in every city over summer.
Image: Anyone for chess? Public art and concrete games boards.

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