May 5, 2014

Return of BEA Part of It: Parks and Rec


Oh. It's supposed to be "The British are coming!"? Oops. Well, I do have some British friends coming for BEA, so let's call that a wash.

Anyway, for this year's BEA, the lovely Estelle has asked me to take part in her BEA PART OF IT blog post series. When Estelle asked me I was utterly flattered but, at the same time, completely lost as to what topic to cover. Yes, I'm a native New Yorker (Fun Fact: I have only ever had one permanent address - Upper West Side born and raised) but I basically do the same things and eat at all of the same places. All the time. Since I was in Middle School and allowed to roam around the City on my own.

But then I was like: Well, I'll just cover the Parks. And since I'm a big Parks and Rec fan, I couldn't help the reference.

So which parks are the tops?

1. Central Park


I talked about Central Park in my other BEA post (which was kinda silly and thrown together before I knew I'd be doing this). But it's basically the park to end all parks. It's got:
  • food
  • lawns 
  • reservoirs
  • fields (more specifically: Strawberry Fields - a mosaic just beyond one of the entrances at 72nd and Central Park West. John Lennon actually lived and died in a nearby building.)
  • animals (the zoo)
  • a carousel
  • bike rentals (I don't know which is the best but there are a bunch in Columbus Circle.)
  • a ramble (where I have gotten lost on more than one occasion.)
  • a boat house
  • Shakespeare in the Park (which unfortunately doesn't begin until RIGHT after BEA, but whatever)
  • the Met (it's technically in the park!)
  • gossip girl shots

This is actually one of my favorite places in Central Park. So. Pretty.
Basically I could spend a week just running around Central Park. And, just to make it even more interesting, you should know Andrea, Alexa, Katelynn, and Jen are planning a BEA Book Blogger Picnic in the park on Friday. So I'll see you there?

2. Washington Square Park

 Did you know Washington Square Park used to be a cemetery? No? Creeped out now? Oops.

No, but seriously, Washington Square Park is great. While there you'll probably see a lot of NYU kids, but there's this big arch that looks amazing all lit up after dark. It's honestly one of the few areas in the city I go to not for the attraction but to just sit and read a bit. There's not much grass but there's something soothing about sitting around the edges of the fountain in the sun. It's almost better than a trip to the beach.

3. Union Square Park
No Bookish Park List can be taken seriously without mentioning Union Square (which, incidentally, also used to be a cemetery - Manhattan's overcrowded, okay?). 

Why do I say that? Here are the list of bookish places around Union Square Park:
  • Books of Wonder (18th W. 18th Street)
  • Barnes and Noble (17th and 5th)
  • The Strand (12th and Broadway)

There's also a Panera, Heartland Brewery, all kinds of good pizza, great shopping on 6th avenue (Anthropologie, Free People, H&M, not to menton a Forever 21 in Union Square itself... I just can't talk about it). 

Oh, and there are usually great street performers and artists with folding tables full of pretty things. You also might spot Joe Mangrum, that guy who does AWESOME sand drawings around the City.

4. Bryant Park

Bryant Park is also an important stop for all book lovers since it's situated RIGHT next to the big branch of the New York Public Library

Look. At. That. Lion.
But Bryant Park is also just a great place to hang out. Lots of grass, surrounded by food, movies on Monday nights in the summer... Can you guys tell I'm ready for summer? Yes? Good.

5. The Hudson River

This one's less of park and more of an awesome thing. A couple of years ago the City was like: Dude, this walkway along the Hudson River is kinda terrible, let's make a better one. So now, if you go ALL the way west, even past the Javits (I know, you didn't think anything was further west than the Javits - well you're wrong), you'll find yourself on this beautiful path along the Hudson River where bikers like me bike and runners not like me run and people just walk and talk and hang out.

There are piers and bike rentals and The Intrepid (which, I'm pretty sure shows movies during the summer - or it did that one time when my friend and I biked past it last summer). It's also a great place to just sit and hang out. The sunset is especially beautiful over there, y'know, since it faces west and all that.

6. The High Line

And then there's The High Line. The High Line used to be a elevated train but then we stopped using it and, just a few years ago, it was turned into an "aerial greenway." That's a pretty fancy term, but I promise it's fantastic. I mean, it's so fantastic Peter Brown wrote a children's picture book called THE CURIOUS GARDEN about it. Get. On. Board.

Now, to be clear, this list could go on for a very, very long time. Contrary to popular belief, there are many patches of green around New York City (or the City, as I've been referring to it in this post - trust me, that's what we all call it here). None are less relaxing and exciting to sit and read in than any other. This list I've compiled just happens to be a list of the big ones - the ones someone from not here might want to see.

DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT got into Central Park or down to the Hudson after dark alone (or even in small groups). It's not entirely safe and bad things may happen. BEA is a time for books and friends and other happy things so stay safe and use the three-pronged buddy system (one to stay and help the troubled one, a third to find help) okay? 

Have questions? Want to  know about a few less obvious parks to visit? Maybe you'd like some park recommendations on the East Side of the City (I just realized how west my parks skew)? Speak up in the comments below!