Big parks can hide many surprises, and sometimes those surprises are other parks. Riverside Park stretches for miles along the Hudson River, and while I've visited it for this project more than once (here and here), somehow I was sure it had secrets I hadn't discovered. Sure enough, a look at Google Maps turned up Joan of Arc Park, a tree-cloaked Riverside Drive median between 91st and 95th Streets.
Beginning near the northern tip is a dirt path. Finding a dirt path in the city is always a cause for celebration.
A kind of annex to Riverside Park, Joan of Arc Park is named for its equestrian statue of the martyred saint.
You need binoculars or a zoom lens to get a good look at Joan's face, which is beautiful and reflects her extreme youth as well as her idealism.
Sculptor Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington (1876–1973) put a lot of thought and work into the sculpture. She had her niece pose on a barrel for the figure, researched the armor at the Metropolitan Museum, modeled the horse after a real one, and so forth. The base, designed by John van Pelt, includes "a few limestone blocks from the tower in Rouen where Joan of Arc had been imprisoned," according to the Parks Department web page about the monument, which has much more information about the artist and the work.
South of the statue, the park's widening space offers still more relief for pavement-sore feet.
This sliver of green may have been "secret" from me, but of course it isn't from the locals. A number of people were sitting around the statue on the weekday afternoon when I walked through. Others came in as I neared the southern exit. This man and his dog seemed very happy to be here, and why not?