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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rockefeller Park

When you come across a beautifully landscaped green space in New York City, it's a pretty safe bet you've found a park that's beyond the purview of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

Such is the case with the parks of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, and one jewel in that chain is Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, named for the man who served as Gerald Ford's Vice President after a long stint of Governor of New York. You young-uns might hear the term "Rockefeller Republican" bandied about these days, as in "There are no more Rockefeller Republicans." Well, this is the guy.

Now, that's not meant as a dig at the Parks Department, which does a darned good job given limited resources and a huge number and variety of properties to maintain. But we can and should appreciate the extra mile gone by the various conservancies and tax-exempt organizations devoted to particular parks. Some neighborhoods are just richer than others, with residents who can afford to pitch in some of their riches and time to make things look extra pretty. And we can all enjoy the rich fruits of their rich-people labor.

Rockefeller Park hugs the Hudson River at the north end of the Battery Park area. Tom Otterness sculptures, collectively titled The Real World, sprawl and huddle fancifully about.

Look to the west, out over the Hudson on an early evening in late spring, and you might catch a cheery sailboat crossing in front of the Statue of Liberty.

The silhouettes of the Jersey City skyline peer across the river at the people kicking around balls (or ideas) on the green lawn:

And as the sun drops lower, the silvery-blue sky looks gorgeous.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wave Hill

Wave Hill isn't a city or state park but a "public garden and cultural center" on a picturesque stretch of the Hudson River in the leafy Riverdale section of the Bronx. It's beautiful, and a certain parks blogger got married there, so I'm partial to it.

It's hard to fine a lovelier place to visit in springtime anywhere in the region, not to mention within the city limits. Visiting via public transportation is possible, but having a car is highly useful in getting here.

It's a steep climb up from the river, so getting here by boat isn't practical. Although if you managed it, I guess you could avoid the entry fee. But that doesn't seem to be a problem the Wave Hill folks encounter with any frequency.

Wave Hill is a haven for trees and plants of all kinds, and for people who appreciate them.

Wave Hill House is the grandest of several buildings on the property. Before the estate was opened to the public, numerous notables lived here, including Mark Twain, Arturo Toscanini, George Walbridge Perkins, and my favorite ichthyologist (yours too, I'm sure), Bashford Dean.

The well-tended Conservatory is always a highlight of a visit to Wave Hill. These Wave Hill people take their gardening very seriously. Evidence: Pretty much all the books for sale in the gift shop are gardening books.

A walk through the Woodland, along the slope down towards the Hudson, has a wilder feel.

To the south you can see the George Washington Bridge.

And at your feel, well…endless floral bounty.

The alpine plants spill out of their borders.

Did I mention I like Wave Hill? Go. You won't be sorry.