Posts Tagged ‘parks’

Flushing Meadows Park – World’s Fair tour

June 7, 2013

I normally wouldn’t tell you to go out of your way to visit this park. It’s somewhat worn around the edges due to lack of upkeep. The lawns are patchy in the summer and the fountain at the Unisphere now gets turned on only during the U.S. Open. It’s a shame given its potential to be a great park. The fact that it’s the fourth largest park in the city, and the largest park in Queens, ought to generate some civic pride, but alas, it doesn’t get the same respect as smaller green spaces in the wealthier parts of the city.

What this park does have going for it that’s unique and worth the trek out is its treasure trove of World’s Fair relics. The park was host to not one but two World’s Fairs – one in 1939 and the other in 1964. Most of you have probably seen the Unisphere and the strange rusty towers jutting into the sky on your way to and from LaGuardia, but have you ever taken the step to see these structures up close from the ground? Their imposing facades hide a rich history of people’s hopes and dreams from two different eras. What you learn about these structures might surprise you, and the key to unlocking their secrets is just a tour away!

The urban park rangers hold free scheduled tours of the World’s Fair sculptures and buildings scattered throughout the park. The tour is about 2 hours long and covers a lot of ground. Since I encourage people to get out there and actually do the tour, I won’t cover the details of the tour itself – only pictures from the tour that I took to whet your appetite!

There’s a family of red-tailed hawks that live on the Unisphere.  If you bring binoculars, you can spot their nest on  top of Portugal!

World's Fair Tour

This building is from the 1939 World’s Fair.  It used to house the United Nations.  It has definitely seen better days!

World's Fair Tour

I call these the mechanical mushrooms.  They are part of the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World’s Fair.

World's Fair Tour

Also part of the Pavilion.

World's Fair Tour

I remember coming here as a kid to marvel at the beautiful colored tiles on the floor.  They formed the largest highway map of New York State.  Sadly, the tiles have since been removed.

World's Fair Tour

They dreamed of robots.

World's Fair Tour

Ethnic representation at the fair.

World's Fair Tour

The Rocket Thrower from the 1964 World’s Fair

World's Fair Tour

To see when the next tour takes place, go to the park’s calendar. The park is easily accessible by subway.  Take the 7 train and get off at Mets-Willets Point.  This is a long tour, so I strongly suggest sunscreen and water.

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The High Line

April 30, 2010

Like Central Park, this relatively new park is a welcome interruption on the urban grid of Manhattan.  The unique aspect about this park is its elevated nature.  Between the 1930s and 50s, the elevated freight tracks that the park now stands on were used to transport food and manufactured goods to the warehouses and factories in Chelsea.  These tracks were originally built in response to all the traffic accidents and deaths that occurred when the trains ran on the streets.  Today, the park is a testament to creative recycling and preservation.

This is the entrance at Gansevoort Street

The tracks are still visible beneath the foliage

It’s very odd to see grass growing out of concrete. There’s also plenty of seating along the whole stretch. The best seating is towards the middle of the park, where the rolling chaise lounge chairs are located. It’s great seating if you can snag one. They’re very popular.

Butterflies already call this place home among the native species of wildflowers planted here.

A glass-enclosed sitting area gives you a view of the traffic below. It’s a good spot for a picnic.

A view from the end of the line…for now. There are plans to extend the park further north.

The High Line is located between 10th and 11th Ave and currently stretches from Gansevoort St to 20th St. There are entrances at Gansevoort St, 14th St (elevator access), 16th St (elevator access), 18th St, and 20th St. The park is open daily from 7am to 8pm. I recommend going during the daytime and coming back some other time at night. (The park takes on a different personality at night.) Dogs and bikes are not allowed.

NY Botanical Garden

April 9, 2010

I would be remiss if I didn’t cover this garden as well after covering the one in Brooklyn.  Located in the Bronx, the NY Botanical Garden is about six times as large as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  Among the well-manicured landscaping, it has sections dedicated to certain plants and flowers.  The glasshouse Conservatory on the grounds hosts changing exhibits and is a well-known choice for weddings.  The great thing about this garden is that it houses a 50-acre native (virgin) forest.  You can, and should, do an easy one-way hike through it using a map that you pick up at the entrance.  The hike takes about one and a half hours.  I wouldn’t even call it a hike.  It’s a stroll. 

The famous glasshouse with lily pond:

Manicured gardens

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Although educational, sometimes the signage gets a little ridiculous.

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Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses…

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…and maybe spot a frog before you leave.
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The NY Botanical Garden is located at Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road.  It is open every day except Monday, from 10am to 6pm.  There are exceptions on certain dates.  Admission is $6 for the grounds.  Rotating exhibits cost extra.  To get there by subway, take the B, D, or 4 train to Bedford Park Blvd Station.  From the station exit, take the Bx 26 bus east to the Garden’s Mosholu Gate entrance (or) walk eight blocks down the hill on Bedford Park Blvd to the end (approximately 20 minutes).  Turn left onto Kazimiroff Blvd and walk one block to Mosholu Gate entrance.  If you’re driving, parking is $12.