Sunday, February 17, 2008

Central Park

We walked aaalll the way to Central Park. It was cold and later several inches of snow would accumulate. We wanted to see the park, but suddenly it seemed that letting some other feet do the walking while we covered up with a blanket seemed like an excellent idea. The horse's name was "Jefferson". The driver was from Armenia. Most everybody in New York is from someplace else, but more on that later. The park is 843 acres. It was originally a swampy, boggy area unsuitable for building. Poor immigrant farmers, predominately German and Irish, were displaced for the creation of the park.
In many places, you can see the granite bedrock exposed on the surface.
The ice rink had a few skaters on it, in spite of the cold.
This old farm house is now a visitor center and gift shop.
Statue honoring Balto, the lead dog for a team who delivered diptheria vaccine to Nome. The Iditarod was born from this historic race. This was supposed to be the fountain from the opening of "Friends" (no splashing today!) but in fact the scene was shot with a recreation on an LA back lot.
One of many more statues in the park, this one honoring Daniel Webster.
The Dakota. John Lennon was shot right over there, by the side door.

The friendly driver shot a picture of us at the end of the ride. For future visitors: two routes are offered. There is a short loop which takes about 20 minutes and the "entire park" ride which takes around 40 minutes. We opted to see the whole thing. It was a good way to get a smattering of the different areas, but there are some parts I will want to go back to on foot.
What did I like the most about New York? Emphatically, the people. New Yorkers and east coast residents in general tend to have a reputation for rudeness among those of us out west. We did find that to be the case back in 2000 when we attended the Cardi nationals in Pennsylvania: the hotel staff was officious and looked down their noses at us.
But the people we met in New York on the streets and at the dog show and in the hotel were helpful, outgoing, and friendly. Communication was sometimes a bit of a challenge: the reputation of New York as a landing place for recent immigrants and as a melting-pot is still richly deserved. It was rare that we heard what was to our ears "unaccented" American English. I have always loved languages and accents and speech patterns. Though I'm fluent only in west-coast American, I've taken classes in Spanish and French and Japanese at different times in my life.
At one point in the hotel we were conversing with a family (we spent a great deal of time telling people about Vallhunds). Or in this case we were conversing with the "mom" who was then turning around and translating to the dad and the kids in a very pretty language. It sounded kind of like Italian, but not quite. It turned out that they were Brazilian, and it was Portuguese.
People of all languages, of all shapes and sizes and shades, dressed in business attire, designer dresses, ethnic outfits of every type imaginable, blue jeans, all together in a mass on the sidewalks and in the streets. A fluid, cohesive mass like blood cells in an artery.
And in New York, they don't wait for the walk signs.