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Friday, October 22, 2010

Athens Square

A recent visit to the heavily Greek-American neighborhood of Astoria, Queens to review the Greece-themed musical comedy OPA! was the perfect opportunity to check out a couple of local parks, including the former playground Athens Square. Greece being the birthplace of theater, the juxtaposition seemed all the more fitting.

The central section of the little park is designed to resemble a Greek amphitheater and is anchored by an impressive statue of Socrates. I like how the man sitting below is unconsciously echoing the philosopher's pose.

A few kids were taking advantage of the beautiful weather to kick a ball around the amphitheater.

Stepping further back you get a view of the prettiest element of the park: the statue of Athena. The base of this replica of the Piraeus Athena notes that it was a gift from the people of Athens, Capital of Greece, to the people of the City of New York. Note the pigeon to the lower left, looking longingly up at the goddess's helmet; he longs to perch there, but there's a crest in the way. I always wondered why Greek helmets had these crests, but I think this bird has helped me figure it out.

In the background, to Athena's left, you can see a bust of Aristotle, a very recent gift to us New Yorkers from the people of the northern Greek region of Chalkidiki, where he was born.

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