Saturday, April 29, 2017

New York City Round-Up #5

Hallett Nature Sanctuary, Central Park

The Central Park Edition: I have made many visits to Central Park during my four trips to New York City, and I have still not seen or experienced all that there is to see and enjoy in that magnificent 843-acre green space in the heart of Manhattan. So for this New York City Round-Up, I am focussing on the park, drawing mostly on information from the Central Park Conservancy, the organisation which overseas much of the ongoing work of upgrades and maintenance.

Specifically, I thought I’d look at the park’s three woodland areas—the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, the Ramble, and the North Woods. Public tours of the Sanctuary, and the Woods have now began and continue right throughout the summer by members of the Central Park Conservancy, and I have provided details and links to more information about the tours below.

In 2016, I managed to squeeze in a brief visit to the newly restored Sanctuary, a four-acre section of Central Park that had been closed to the public for many years. Located south of the Wollman Rink, and surrounded by the Pond at the southeast corner of Central Park, the closest street entrance is at Sixth Avenue and Central Park South.

The Sanctuary was originally called ‘the Promontory’, but in 1934 the location was closed to the public and preserved as a bird sanctuary by Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses. It was renamed in memory of George Hallett Jr., a birdwatcher, naturalist, and civic leader in 1986. Last summer—due to ongoing restoration work—there was limited entry to the Sanctuary, but happily this year the site will be open daily from 10:00am until 30 minutes before sunset. 

Tours of the Hallett Nature Sanctuary ($15; CPC Members $10), take place each Wednesday and Saturday, from now through until July, 2017, and beyond.

The Ramble, Central Park

The Ramble
Central Park’s chief designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, described the 36-acre Ramble as a “wild garden.” The area was planned as a tranquil spot where visitors could discover forest gardens rich with plants while strolling along the paths. As you walk through all three of the sites highlighted in this post, I’m sure you will find it as hard to believe as I did that everything you are walking through has been built by the hands of many men and women. The bedrock may be permanent, but the ten of thousands of plantings, trees, lakes, waterfalls, and other park features have each been placed there by hand and machine.

Below, Isabella Rossellini, Italian actress, filmmaker, author, philanthropist, and model, shares secrets of the Ramble. Central Park's 36-acre wild garden.

If you are visiting during Spring or Autumn/Fall, look out for some of the 230 species of birds that spend time in the park—which is part of the Atlantic Flyway—as they pass through on their annual migrations.

The North Woods, Central Park

The North Woods
Earlier this month, ABC7 New York ran a story about the restoration of Central Park’s North Woods, a 40-acre forest retreat at the top left of the park, where a man-made ravine meets the Harlem Meer. Interviewed for the television story, Doug Blonsky, of the Central Park Conservancy, said the area was created to mimic sections of the terrain around upstate New York.
“Olmsted and Vaux created areas like this for the typical New Yorker to experience the Catskills or The Adirondacks," he said.
Due to the lack of ongoing maintenance over many years, the North Woods had become overgrown and neglected, but now the Conservancy has returned an open waterway to the area, and put huge boulders of Manhattan schist back in place. 

Check out the ABC7 New York story:

The North Woods renovation was part of the $300 million Forever Green campaign, which took two years to complete. Visit Central Park Forever Green, to learn more about the campaign, including more woodland restorations and the renovations of 21 playgrounds.

If You Go
Make sure you check out the 90-minute North Woods tours ($15; CPC Members $10), that are scheduled each Tuesday and Saturday, from now through July, 2017, and beyond.

I have often thought that even if you were to spend five days exploring Central Park, you would still be in danger of missing some beautiful corner of that magnificent site. There is much to discover and appreciate across those 843 acres, and I would urge you, dear reader, to at least allocate a morning or afternoon to discovering some of its many secrets. In future posts I will focus on locations and objects within the park.

More Information
Central Park Conservancy…

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