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Friday, July 31, 2015

Cooper Park

Just a few weeks after walking through Stuyvesant Oval at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, I learned that Brooklyn has a park named after Peter Cooper, the 19th century inventor, industrialist and philanthropist. Cooper also founded Cooper Union, "the first private college open to all classes, races, and genders" according to the capsule biography on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers website, where you can also learn that as a by-product of one of his glue technologies he invented Jell-O.

In 1838 Cooper relocated his Manhattan glue factory to a strategic shipping location in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn near Newtown Creek. The City of Brooklyn bought the site in 1895, and behold: Cooper Park.

cooper park williamsburg brooklyn nyc

Cooper Park seems to get a fair amount of use, and is in a decent if not glorious state of maintenance. It can be fun to find pockets of wild neglect, though. Just across Maspeth Avenue is a stretch of overgrown sidewalk, with a plastic bag on the pavement playing the the role of The Tumbleweed.

cooper park williamsburg brooklyn nyc

Cooper Park's dog run is actually one of the nicer ones I've seen in the city, with wood chips and wide open spaces. With a natural look, it hardly even looks like a dog run. Though I don't suppose that matters much to the dogs.

cooper park williamsburg brooklyn nyc

Ices, anyone?

cooper park williamsburg brooklyn nyc

Early evening shadows turn the landscape into a lushly striped panorama.

cooper park williamsburg brooklyn nyc

Lying in the grass seems to get some people's creativity flowing. One woman looked to be writing something on old-fashioned "paper" with a stick-like "pen" or "pencil" device, while some kids were putting the grass to a different but equally productive use.

cooper park williamsburg brooklyn nyc
cooper park williamsburg brooklyn nyc

On the other hand, there was this:

cooper park williamsburg brooklyn nyc

Two nearby community gardens looked to be well tended.

red shed community garden williamsburg brooklyn nyc
Red Shed Community Garden
olive garden east williamsburg brooklyn nyc
The Olive Garden, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn

It seems intuitively obvious that a walk in the park, or any time spent in natural surroundings, is good for you. But now there's scientific evidence that walking in the park changes your brain. One of the authors appeared on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show yesterday talking about it:

Next up: a study of whether reading a blog about parks has relaxing and recharging effects too.

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