Our Big Apple Greeter, Joanna Bukszpan, who is also a Central Park Conservancy Greeter, took us on a journey that was both beautiful and fun.
We met her at the corner of 97th and Central Park West. As we headed into the park, she wryly admitted that what she knows best is where the bathrooms are. ”It’s the number one question I get from visitors; the second being ‘Where is Strawberry Fields?’
She promised the street noise would disappear and within two minutes she was right. “The north park was designed so the sound level plummets almost immediately after you enter.”
The park was designed in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who beat out 33 competitors in a design competition. We learned the truth about the park’s beginnings: almost everything — trees, flowers, soil, water and grass – were brought in! It is, in effect, a man-made natural park. Only the schist rocks are original.
Another interesting tidbit? The park was designed to be confusing. You think you’re going here and you end up going there. The whole idea is the fun of getting lost in the park. When you do, you’ll come across anything from a magnificent waterfall in the middle of the woods, to a wildlife party of birds, turtles and ducks, to the most spectacular assortment of huge, lush trees.
At the 106th Street and 5th Avenue entrance, we were awed by the only formal garden in Central Park: The Conservatory Garden. Renowned for the intense color of its flowers, those flowers are almost upstaged by the swirling patterns of grass.
Don’t be one of the people who haven’t seen Central Park North. “It’s where the locals go” said Joanna, since it doesn’t have a touristy bone in its bushes.
Why not take a free tour? Call the Central Park Conservancy at 212-310-6600 or visit centralparknyc.org