Of Parks and Train Stations
As a disclaimer: These photos were taken during a visit in February/March 2016, so this post may not be representative of this site today.
Depending on where you’re traveling from, your journey to New York City may take anywhere from half an hour, to a couple of hours, to around nine or ten if you’re traveling from Europe… or 18, if you happen to be me and you book yourself a flight from Madrid with a layover in Istanbul in order to save yourself some money. Suffice it to say that by the time I landed on US soil, I was pretty tired, which is why my first day consisted of a lazy stroll. But with these sights (and the right company, which I undoubtedly had), even a lazy stroll can be lovely.
In the mid-19th century, due to a high population concentration, people began to seek open spaces in which to spend time in order to escape the busy hubbub of the city. At first, they sought out cemeteries for some peace and quiet, which seems perfectly reasonable to me, but the people wanted more greenery, and so a spot for such a place was summarily sought. What eventually became Central Park was a series of villages populated mostly by free Black people and Irish immigrants, who had lived there since 1825, the most prominent of which was Seneca Village. As a result, an approximate 1,600 people were evicted under eminent domain in order to construct the park.
Cleopatra’s Needle is an Egyptian obelisk made of red granite, and which stands about 21 meters high. It was originally part of a set of two that stood in Heliopolis, erected by Thutmose III in 1475 BCE. Inscriptions were added about 200 years later by Ramesses II to commemorate his military victories. Later, the obelisks were moved to Alexandria by the Romans during the reign of Augustus (12 BCE) to be set up in a temple built by Cleopatra, the Caesareum. In 1881, the Khedive of Egypt gifted it to the USA as thanks for remaining neutral while France and Britain attempted to secure control of the Egyptian Government. The other obelisk now stands in London.
During the Great Depression, a community of homeless people came together to build Hooverville, a shanty town located in what is today known as the Great Lawn. This was removed by Robert Moses, who was appointed city parks commissioner in the 1930s.
Alice in Wonderland was commissioned by George T. Delacorte Jr., an American magazine publisher, in honor of his late wife and for the enjoyment of the children of New York. It was sculpted by José de Creeft, a Spanish-born American sculptor, and unveiled in 1959.
Grand Central Station
While its official name is actually “Grand Central Terminal,” the building has always been colloquially known as “Grand Central Station,” which was the name of its immediate predecessor (1900-1910). GCS opened in 1913, and it is the second-busiest train station in North America after New York Penn Station.
One of the top tourist attractions in the world, it has been featured in countless films (from Revolutionary Road, to Armageddon, to The Avengers), and mentioned in multiple books (such as The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton).