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The Park is Central to NYC

March 31, 2020

central parkTwenty years ago I moved to New York City and lived in the Bronx. I commuted into the city, gazing longingly at Central Park from the express bus, wishing I was one of those walkers or cyclists enjoying its 843 acres.

Ten years later I moved into a tiny apartment in Manhattan one block from Central Park. It was the Park that helped me thrive in that 90-square-foot studio. It became my backyard. I ran the Reservoir, enjoyed concerts on the Great Lawn, and read books on one of the Park’s 9,000 benches.

Now, twenty years later, I am a volunteer Gardener’s Assistant with the Central Park Conservancy. Every Wednesday morning I lace up work boots, grab my ID, and head to the Park. Each week it’s a new project. While raking the North Meadow or mulching quiet paths in the Ramble, I chat with other volunteers about their lives, which part of the city they live in, and which Broadway shows they’ve just attended. And as we beautify the Park we feel good, knowing we are making a difference.

Exactly three weeks ago I pruned an entire section in the Dene Slope, a native meadow near the Central Park Zoo, chatting with my new bestie Carol about her upcoming trip to Denmark. At that point she was still going. Who knew the world would come to a halt days later? With the sun on our faces, clippers in hand, tourists walking by, we had no idea a makeshift hospital would be erected inside our cherished park a few weeks later.

But this isn’t the first time Central Park has come to the rescue for the residents of New York City. In the late 1800s, after a number of cholera outbreaks and a tainted milk scare, children were in critical need of fresh milk. Calvert Vaux, the Park architect and designer, had built the Dairy, a fairy tale-like cottage inside Central Park, as a place for children to get it.

New Yorkers are resilient, and we will get through this together. Already, we have bonded in a unique way, opening our windows each evening at 7pm and cheering our thanks to the health care workers and first responders. Central Park may be essential to New Yorkers, but it’s New Yorkers who are essential to Central Park.

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15 Comments
  1. Marilyn permalink

    WOW! Just stay SAFE and HEALTHY! Been watching Fox and we know what’s going on. Virtual HUGS to you and your family 🤗🤗🤗

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Tracey permalink

    Hello Felice, It’s very nice to hear you volunteer at Central Park. Great story…as always! Yes, it’s amazing how the world as we knew it changed all of a sudden. I’m sure the park will be an inviting place to people who need medical care just as it was to you. Take care and stay safe. Kind wishes, Tracey

  3. julie holley permalink

    This was really good.
    Thanks.
    Julie Holley

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    ________________________________

  4. Roger J Bass permalink

    Sheltered in my condo in Seattle and experiencing some of the loss being felt by New Yorkers, I find this posting so affirming. Felice, you are remarkable in many ways. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They are comforting to all who read them. Fondly, Roger

  5. Tere Mele permalink

    Love it, Felice!!
    Good research on the park with up to date infomation. Thank you to you and all the other volunteers and workers who keep this park so beautiful!! I know you are being safe. Keep up keeping is informed with your blogs and all of your writings!! Xoxo Tere

  6. Edes Gilbert permalink

    This is beautiful, Felice. I have sent it on to Mary and Molly. Full of insight and empathy, your magic combination.

    Thank you.

    Edes

    >

  7. Shelly Cohen permalink

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
    Get Outlook for Android)

    ________________________________

  8. Michael Gnat permalink

    Nice that you prune in the park; I normally prune in the tub. 😉

    Thanks for the lovely post! Hang in there!

  9. Kalli permalink

    What a nice feeling it must be volunteering keeping Central Park Beautiful!! Keep Safe!

  10. Al mascolo permalink

    You are the best keep writing I love your articles

  11. Shelly Cohen permalink

    So beautiful and uplifting, Felice. Now the park has added to its history..keep these blogs coming..Stay safe..xxoo

  12. Shelly Cohen permalink

    So beautiful and uplifting..Now the park has added to its history..Keep these wonderful blogs coming and stay safe. We pray for all.

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
    Get Outlook for Android
    ________________________________

  13. Regina Apicella permalink

    Thank you Felice…I think and then I thank…your blogs always add meaning to my thoughts and the ability to remain grateful. Stay your course…love and health to you and yours, Regina at Papa’s Place😉

  14. Richard Aberson permalink

    Central Park is the crown jewel of NYC and you too are a valuable jewel. Stay well.
    Richard Aberson

  15. Dana Arschin permalink

    are you still able to volunteer there now or not considered essential?

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