A Grand Reservoir ~ A Legacy Lives On

Whoever invented the reservoir must have done it with him alone in mind. It was without flaw, a perfect lake set in the most unexpected of locations.*

There is only one place in New York where you can take in beautiful skyline views at ground level, and that’s in Central Park, at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

At the Reservoir on its West side, looking at Manhattan’s Midtown

You can access the Reservoir from the park’s entrances at 86th or 96th streets, from either the Central Park West or Fifth Avenue sides, all within easy reach of the subway. Strolling along the park’s meandering walkways, it doesn’t take long to reach the expansive body of water, circled by a running track and a black, four-foot-high, steel fence. This is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

A West Side entrance

Bridge close by Central Park West’s 96th Street Entrance

Looking towards the southern point of midtown, and the Chrysler is there… somewhere…

From the South, looking West at The Eldorado Apartments

You can see midtown and upper Manhattan from the western, southern and eastern edges of the reservoir. Prominent buildings look miniature from across the lake (the Guggenheim – so tiny!) and on a good day, you can see the sun sets behind a silhouetted skyline. I don’t venture to Central Park often enough, but when I do, seeing these New York City views makes it really worthwhile.

Gorgeous (model of a) Guggenheim on the East side

Silhouetted Skyline

Twilight, ducks and The Guggenheim (far right)

Grasses and sunset

I’ve been living in New York, on and off, for about six years and only recently learned that in 1994, the reservoir was dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; it was “renamed for the beloved first lady who lived nearby and often enjoyed a run along the 1 1/2-mile jogging track that circles the water.”[2] Initially, this massive pool of water was named the Central Park Reservoir, built in 1862.

Spanning 106 acres and covering approximately an eighth of the Park, the Reservoir was built to receive water from the Croton Aqueduct and distribute it around Manhattan.

The reservoir is 40 feet deep and holds a billion gallons of water. It was built in the 1860s as a temporary water supply for New York City, while the Croton Water system was shut down for repairs two weeks each year. At the time, it was unthinkable that a billion gallons of water would last less than two weeks. Today, some speculate that the City would go through that supply in just four hours. The reservoir was decommissioned in 1993, deemed obsolete because of the Third Water Tunnel.[3]

The Reservoir still distributes water to other Central Park locations, such as the Pool, the Loch, and the Harlem Meer, and also serves as a meditative spot.

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today cut the ribbon to open the renovated 1.58-mile running track around Central Park‘s Reservoir. The renovations, made possible by a $500,000 gift from the Goldie-Anna Charitable Trust, replaced the track’s gravel and timber lining, and completely overhauled its drainage system. The renovations, the first since the Track initially opened in 1982, will be maintained with a $2 million grant from the Uris Brothers Foundation.[4]

In April 2010, the jogging track was dedicated to a man named Alberto Arroyo. Name Mayor of Central Park by the path’s regular patrons, Arroyo claimed to be the first person to jog around the reservoir, in 1937.

Alberto Arroyo was there every day, and when he retired he was often there the entire day, waving and saying hello to everyone. When he couldn’t run, he walked. Then he used a cane, then a walker, and finally, after a stroke, a wheelchair. Arroyo died last month <March 2010> at 94.[5]

This pathway is also extremely popular with walkers, tourists, photographers, and the neighbourhood’s residents, where the lake makes up a large part of their glorious backyard. Signage requests that no strollers, bikes or dogs be taken on the track. Rightly so as the pathway is way to narrow to cater to everyone (and their messes)!

Photographers and walkers

There is also the track’s protocol of going with the flow; if going against traffic (i.e., clockwise) you may be faced with dozens of shocked faces and disgruntled looks. This park etiquette however, seems to work well. One just needs to be street smart if constantly stopping and starting as the path attracts some pretty swift runners. Apparently, in spring, cherry blossoms bloom along the pathway too. Can you imagine how beautiful that would look?

An eastern perspective, and ducks

The Reservoir is also a lovely pit-stop during a weekend of museum hopping, after visits to The Met and/or The Guggenheim on the East Side, or the American Museum of Natural History, located at 81st Street and Central Park West .

In any kind of weather, the Reservoir’s space seduces. It’s such a calm place for the contemplative soul; an oasis for the stressed-out New Yorker; a perfect viewing spot for the traveler; and, a romantic setting for a date. By day, Manhattan is characterised by its skyscraper skyline; by night, the beautiful lampposts light up the area and transport you to Paris.

It’s another reason that gives New York its edge and character.

Good night…

Bolt of Inspiration Series, Part Six (Rain)… and Thank You to…

Recently I came across a quote by Paulo Coehlo that r motivated me to curate part six of the Bolt of Inspiration Series.

I’d also like to dedicate this post to fellow bloggers, My thoughts, pics and personal opinions and thoughts and rainstorms. Both nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award – thank you! These two wonderful blogs make me smile, laugh and inspire with their words and insights. As I recently posted on receiving The Versatile Blogger Award from Victor Ho, I thought I’d spread the love by sharing a selection of inspiring quotes and images – many of the photographs taken by very talented and well traveled photographers in the blogosphere. I hope you check out all of these blog links!

Enjoy!

“If we only walk on sunny days, we’ll never reach our destination.” Paulo Coehlo

Rainy Day in Venice ~ Photograph by Jim Richardson via Nat Geo

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Kyoto, Japan ~ Photograph via Jonathan Fleming’s Blog

Blog: Jonathan Fleming

“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.” Louis L’Amour

Rainy Day at Bangkok’s Wat Pho ~ Photograph via Tricia A. Mitchell

Blog: Tricia A. Mitchell.

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” Jim Rohn

M.Barre’s Carousel 1955 ~ Photograph by Robert Doisneau

“Everything is as it was, I discover when I reach my destination, and everything has changed.” Michael Frayn  

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Liberty Square, Taiwan ~ Photograph via AsianinAsia

Blog: An Asian in Asia

“. . .the grand tour is just the inspired man's way of heading home.” Paul Theroux

The man and the sea, Wellington, NZ ~ Photograph via alicia scott photographer

Blog: alicia scott photographer

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu

Bokeh in the rain, Brooklyn, NY ~ Photograph by Marina Chetner

“It is of course the nature of historical contraction that the shortest distance to a historical destination is never a straight line.” Ibrahim Babangida

Kyoto in Black and White ~ Photograph via Jonathan Fleming’s Blog

Blog: Jonathan Fleming

“Follow what you are genuinely passionate about and let that guide you to your destination.” Diane Sawyer

Notre Dame in the Rain ~ Photograph by Matt Naas via NatGeo

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” Christopher Columbus

Caught in the Rain, Day 9 in Japan ~ Photograph via Japan in 365 Days

Blog: Japan in 365 Days

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Miriam Beard

Tram passing the Kremlin on a rainy day, Moscow, 1956 ~ Photograph by Lisa Larsen

Bolt of Inspiration Series, Part Five (Sundays)

It’s Sunday and it feels as if last Sunday was yesterday.
Before I know it, Christmas will be here, then New Year’s Day (both of which fall on a Sunday)…. 2012 will begin and 2011s Sundays will be yesteryear’s!

Instead of stressing over it, here’s to stepping back and enjoying every moment.

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” Albert Einstein

Owl, Netherlands ~ Photograph by Robin Utrecht

Image source

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao ~ Photograph by Albert Perpinya

Image source

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” Herman Melville

Trees, Lithuania ~ Photograph by Matas Juras

Image source

“Maybe that’s what life is… a wink of the eye and winking stars. ”  Jack Kerouac

Eiffel Tower, Paris ~ Photograph by Rick Wianecki

 Image source

“Imagine.” John Lennon

Baobab Trees, Madagascar ~ Photograph by Pascal Maitre

Image source

“Be present – it is the only moment that matters.” Peaceful Warrior

The Astor Court, The Met, NY ~ Photograph by Marina Chetner

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

Flower, Spain ~Photograph by Brendan Comey

Image source

“He who would travel happily must travel light.” Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Prayer Wheels, Tibet ~ Photograph by Ray Chong

Image source

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” Rosalia de Castro

Steps from Wagner Cove, Central Park NY ~ Photograph by Marina Chetner

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”
Paul Theroux

Door, Seville ~ Photograph by Wenjie Zhang

Image source

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller

Polar Bear Vs. Ship, Norway ~ Photograph by Michael Nolan

Image source

 

Central Park Reflections… with a little help from John Lennon

Today I ventured from Brooklyn to Central Park for a couple of reasons. I was scared that I’d miss the chance to stroll the park’s beautiful walkways before winter, which is fashionably late this year. And, I wanted to take some shots of the park’s autumnal foliage. Who knows when I might have the opportunity to experience Central Park during a prolonged fall again?

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…” John Lennon

I set out without a route in mind, which has become my preferred way of exploring ever since I received my Nikon camera. Photographing the details leads my way. While photographing the park’s beautiful vistas, I came across monuments I’d never seen before. Thanks to my new-found appreciation for spontaneity, I also stumbled across a crowd of fans paying tribute to John Lennon, one of the most loved songwriters and singers of our time.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon

Central’s Park Lake and Boathouse (background)

Like many parks found in the larger cities of the world – think Hyde Park in London and Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris – Central Park is an oasis. Located in the middle of an otherwise built up urban grid, the park brings about a sense of peace as soon as you step within its perimeter. Although thousands of residents and tourists descend upon it on any given day – whether to relax,  to visit the Zoo or to skate Wollman Rink – there are parts of the park that make you feel as if you’re the only one there.

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” John Lennon

Set across 843 acres (3.41 km2), Central Park runs the length of 59th Street to 110th Street and extends from Fifth Avenue to Central Park West. The Park has been described as ‘America’s first and foremost major urban public space’[1]. Its design was based on plans drawn up by landscape designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calbert Vaux in 1858 (they are also the minds behind Brooklyn’s Prospect Park).

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” John Lennon

Surface reflections

Central Park’s labyrinth of pathways, meadows, bridges and undulating hills takes a few hours to enjoy. I found myself stopping and starting – to pause in front of a monument,to ponder one of the park’s many plaque dedications.

“The more I see, the less I know for sure.” John Lennon

Plaque dedication

Benches

A major discovery for me was the Literary Walk, lined with huge monuments of the playwright Shakespeare, Scottish poet Robert Burns… and for some reason Christopher Columbus. From here, the pathway continues to the adjoining Mall. Though I had never witnessed this part of the park’s literary influence, I am familiar with The Mall, a promenade lined with towering elm trees line that make for a dramatic lead up to a staircase that descend toward the beautiful Bethesda Fountain. It is no wonder that this is the most photographed part of the park.

“Living is easy with eyes closed.” John Lennon

Shakespeare in the Park

The Mall

The Park hasn’t always enjoyed great fanfare. In the 1970’s, it experienced severe decline as “years of poor management and inadequate maintenance had turned a masterpiece of landscape architecture into a virtual dustbowl by day and a danger zone by night.”[2] Crime ridden, littered, and a hotbed for graffiti, Central Park was hardly a respite from the Big City despite its National Historic Landmark designation (1963). In 1980, a ‘group of dedicated civic and philanthropic leaders’[3] rallied together and in founded The Central Park Conservancy. Together with the City of New York they work towards a common goal:

to restore, manage and enhance Central Park, in partnership with the public, for the enjoyment of present and future generations[4].

Stairwell artwork (leading to Bethesda Fountain). The stonework on this particular balustrade represents winter, old age, evening

It was at the Bow Bridge, one of the Park’s five original cast-iron bridges, where I photographed more beautiful landscapes. Carefully tended to by Conservancy crews, the area is alive with trees, shrubs, and flowers. From here, you can see the green-roofed Boathouse to the east; glittery weeping willows to the south; bare sycamore trees backed by Central Park West to the north west. I spotted ducks on the grandlake, whose rippled surface reflected the trees’ yellow and orange leaves.

“Love is like a flower-you’ve got to let it grow.” John Lennon

The Boathouse

The Bow Bridge

After what seemed like five minutes, but more realistically two hours, the sun started to set, and I made my way towards the 72nd Street exit, the location of Strawberry Fields and its Imagine mosaic memorial dedicated to the late John Lennon by Yoko Ono. I hadn’t expected to walk in on a crowd of people blocking the way and singing Beatles’ songs in unison. But then I learned it was the 31st anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and as has been customary every year since 1980, fans gathered around the mosaic — covered in flowers, candles, momentos and messages — to strum ‘Imagine’ and ‘Come Together’ on guitar. It was a touching dedication to an icon, “known for his social activism and anti-war rhetoric. He was a praised figure, full of wit and wisdom”[5], and I am glad to have been a small part of the celebratory gathering. (I sing out of tune, so thought it would be unfair to participate but I enjoyed the scene and took some photos.)

“Now that John’s a spirit, he has a different effect on people than when he was alive.” Yoko Ono[6]

A gathering of fans

‘Imagine’ mosaic

Located in the centre of an ever-changing city that never sleeps, Central Park is a product of its surroundings. It has gone through ups and downs, and the Conservancy maintains its landmark status. Just as I always stumble on something unexpected in any New York boroughs, the same can be said for the Park, a borough unto its own. These days, paying attention to the details paves the way for discoveries, and I have my camera to thank for that. Today, I came away from Central Park with a completely new appreciation for it. I can’t wait to go back in spring, to explore the park once again, and to experience the changing foliage.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” John Lennon


[1] http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/ [2] Blonsky, Douglas. “Saving the Park: a key to NYC’s revival”. The New York Post, 3 November 2007 Op-Ed page [3]http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/ [4] ibid [5] http://www.ibtimes.com [6] ibid

Above it all: Manhattan’s High Line

Manhattan works 24/7, without a break. It’s where things happen; it’s the world’s muse. Its avenues are well-trodden, meaning the roads are in continual need of repair. It is where the hot dog and pretzel stands are as ubiquitous as the yellow cabs. But, sometimes all of this hubbub gets too much to deal, and that’s when I head to Manhattan’s High Line.

The High Line

The Standard Hotel

Elevated city view

I first read about the High Line in a travel magazine a few years ago and remember thinking how great it was make something new from something old. Here, 30-foot high abandoned railway tracks have been converted into usable public green space, which is named the High Line. The railway tracks faced demolition in 1999, and this gave rise to a community group  – Friends of the High Line – who came to the rescue with the High Line proposition. The project was approved by the City of New York.

The Standard Hotel

Autumnal colours against the Hudson

Birch trees and grass

The park opened in two phases. The first phase (2009) spanned the area between the Meatpacking District, by Gansevoort Street, and up to 20th Street. Phase two opened this year, in 2011, and extends the walkway to 30th Street. The final phase, between 30th and 34th streets, called High Line at the West Side Rail Yards, is being construction.

Iin October 2011, the Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, founded by the fashion designer, Diane von Furstenberg, and her husband, Barry Diller, made a $20 million commitment to the High Line. This is the largest single private contribution to a public park in New York City’s history and will be put towards this final stretch of the project.

Factories and warehouses hug the High Line

Undercover windows

Fragments of the past

Just when you thought New York was packed to the rafters, up goes the Standard Hotel and a new few condominiums by the High Line. With Hudson River views to one side, and city views from elsewhere, it’s a great spot to buy some real estate, which also comes with a 1.45-mile garden.

Frank Gehry’s IAC building (left); condos (right)

Condos…..

… and more condos.

In addition to making the walk from uptown to downtown more pleasurable, the High Line hosts interactive public art installations, performances, open air film screenings and exhibits.

Art

The success of the High Line has been two-fold: it has not only drawn two million visitors annually, but it has also inspired another green space project dubbed the “Low Line.” The Low Line hopes to restore a former trolley terminal under Delancey Street (Lower East Side), into an underground park. Read more here: NYTimes.com

The High Line has rehabilitated and preserved an essential part of New York’s history. Influenced by its Parisian predecessor, the Promenade Plantée – an elevated park built around a similar rail viaduct and inaugurated in 1993 – Manhattan’s High Line has furthered interest for industrial restoration closer to home. Similar projects are in early stages in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Jersey City, and Chicago.

A linear view

Hudson River views

A great blog about Promenade Plantée can be found here:

Paris’ Promenade Plantée: The original High Line park | On the Luce.