Central Park in all seasons | New York

12:35 AM

“A snowfall in NYC transforms Central Park into a magical winter wonderland at the lakes and arches whereas autumn turns it into a foliage spectacle of myriad colors at the mall. As I walked through winding ways of Central Park in the fluffy snow that got kids from their homes onto their snow slides and the trees covered in white before the new leaves give birth and the ducks with their green necks swim and the Bethesda Terrace where street performers sing, I felt blessed in the winter storm of last week! Never could I have had imagined that before we jump into Spring, a burst of pouring snowfall is what we needed to make us escape the hectic life of New York. "


Bow Bridge at Central Park, USA


“When it snows in New York, it looks really pretty until the time the snow is falling. In next 2 hours, it doesn’t look like the fluffy white snow at all. The reason being there are plenty of footfalls in the city. The tall buildings hardly let snow permeate to the ground and the road creating a slushy mess. Central Park, however, is a different story. I wonder if the snow stays, but as long as it was snowing, it felt like an escape. Many of the movies use those snowmaker machines to make snow and spend 1000’s of dollars in making Central Park a white blanket although if you arrive in a Blizzard or a Winter Storm, the nature gifts you that white blanket for real.

I almost lost my sense of direction in the snow and had to ask the already present visitors to where I was heading. Because sometimes snow can be “all there is”.

My youtube video on Central Park in snow captured live:




How Central Park came up?

Central Park was made an escape. In the mid 19th century, the city bought the park and they ended up having a design competition on what Central Park would look like. Two designers won the competition and they designed the park with the general idea that this was supposed to look very natural unlike the park of those days when they were very formal and linear looking. Manhattan earlier had huge rock formations and hence they had to use gunpowder to blast and break the rocks. The topsoil was then taken out and the new topsoil was bought from the neighboring garden state of New Jersey. 5 million saplings were planted and it took 20 years to complete the park.

“It’s easy to turn around in the winding pathways of Central Park. And if you feel you have lost track, grab the nearest lamppost, look at the digits written on it. The first 2 digits are which street you can on. That can make you kind of orient yourself. The whole idea though was not to create straight strict lines but to make winding paths that can make one truly feel how escaping from New York would feel like.”

The lamppost with 4 digits


Central Park is huge at 843 acres. It goes from 59th street to 110th street and from 5th avenue to 8th avenue on the grid of Manhattan. So, central park is significantly larger than the country of Monaco (500 acres). When the city bought the land, it got it for 5 million dollars then. 10 years later, US bought the state of Alaska for 7.5 million dollars. So you can imagine how crazy the purchase was called back then!

Now my favorite place in New York hasn’t always been Central Park. I despise the barren trees towards the end of winter and I laugh at the ridiculously priced horse carriages but I cannot ignore it for the fact that it is one of New York’s favorite landmarks. As I recently told my social media friend from India, Nivedith, who had come to visit NYC “Central Park is for tourist.” Check out my Facebook page for a couple of lives we did together from NYC.

Central Park - Filmmaker's Favourite

And Central Park is for filmmakers undoubtedly. 100’s of movies are filmed and 1000’s are set in NYC. It is one of the most common settings for many movies. Most of the movie set in NYC are not filmed in NYC because of the primary reason that it is incredibly difficult - it's chaotic, it's crowded, it's noisy, there’s traffic and the weather is very temperamental. Doing outdoorsy scenes can get very difficult especially with the rerouting the traffic in the busiest city of the world. So when you are looking for movies that look filmed in New York, most often you are looking for a studio lot in Los Angeles California, which is designed to look like various parts of the city. Toronto is another common setting for New York City. So, most movies don’t bother.

“I myself have seen and randomly participated in this Bollywood Flick called Half Girlfriend. I spotted Arjun Kapoor at the Bethesda Terrace and stood there in the audience and we were supposed to clap when the would take takes. Then the crew moved to Bow Bridge in Central Park.“

For folks who are crazy enough to try it, you will get something filming in New York city which you will absolutely positively not get anywhere else. Even though sometimes New York kind of fightbacks against you, sometimes it can do the work for you. Some of the many movies shot in Central Park are Elf, Home Alone 2, Serendipity and Miracle on 34th Street.

The filmmaker of Elf chose to imagine the reality of “If an Elf would come to a busy city of New York, what would happen”. He sends the cast and crew home and shot with one cameraman and one sound guy around the city. So the shoeshine guy is a real New Yorker or the person handling flyers on the 34th street is something that was happening there. Elf gave the most attention to details when it comes to locations, a lot of these movies shoot locations based on convenience. Home Alone 2 is shot in Central Park. Serendipity(all though most of it was shot in Canada), the popular Wollman rink from Central Park with the view of Skyscrapers was shot here.


Wollman rink with Nivedith, Macrotraveller


Central Park: What used to be...

The present-day Sheep Meadow in Central Park is where they used to graze sheep in the 1930’s. And Tavern on the green restaurant in Central Park used to be the Sheep Barn. How things change!






There is also a children’s district in Central Park where there is a carousel. When the park had opened up, this was really far from New York City. New York city actually ended down at 23rd Street and the Madison Square area was the north end of the city. A lot of people lived in downtown in the immigrant neighborhoods of lower Manhattan, so getting here took an hour with the street cart. So the reason for having the carousel was “If you come traveling an hour with 6 kids, you might as well not want to go any further.”

The landmark historic merry-go-round in Central Park(Image from Shutterstock)


This is not the original carousel. The original was powered by the horse and the mule. They were hitched to the underside of the carousel. When they would hear music, they would start going in circles. There was a conductor who stood on the platform and whenever you thought the ride was over, they would tap their foot twice. That was the signal for the horse to stop.

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Macys Thanksgiving Parade is a spectacular parade of Balloon Floats


The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade starts at Central Park a little way up on the 79th street and ends at Macy's during the holiday season. It was featured in Miracle on 34th street (1947) that made it a national thing. Those times the actors used to be a Method actor. And in this movie, the actor actually was the Santa in the parade who was the Santa in the parade indeed and he not only rode the whole parade but also gave a speech in front of Macy's and greeted the children on the coldest Thanksgiving parade. It was so cold that the cameras stopped freezing.

The challenge of filming a parade live was that it was all done in one take and they had every camera person on different places along the route and they were actually said: “Don’t mess up!”. Now, how many movies are made like that today. The original movie Ghostbuster is also shot in the building next to Central Park and it was made much taller double its size than it really is to look more ghostly. The sounds from the apartment are actually real like sounds when you live in apartments in NYC because a lot of them are very old.

Dana's Apartment in Ghostbusters Apartment


Central Park West

I generally take my friends through the entry of Central Park West. That takes you through Strawberry Fields, The Mall, Bethesda Terrace & Bow Bridge. Even though I have gone there twice or thrice, I am yet to travel through the entire north to south-central park in one stretch. Maybe one day I can rent a bike and you can too! There are bike rentals in Central Park which many people seem to enjoy.

So let’s take you through “Central Park in 50 Snaps”













The mall


Bethesda Fountain




Loeb Boathouse




 
                                                                                Bow Bridge




Central Park is so big, it also has traffic lights






Saw someone even skiing there..




Central Park in Fall, usually happens during November










Bethesda Terrace

Strawberry Fields in memory of former Beatle John Lennon



In Summers

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3 Comments

  1. Wow! excellent article. The pictures are just stunning.

    Thanks for the post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! You have created an absolute dreamland here.

    ReplyDelete

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