I Love NYC In the Spring
This is it, folks…smw, slt is leaving NYC after a year on these shores. Tomorrow I’ll start moving again, exploring a few parts of the US before I leave in late July to take up my next post with MSF. There’ll be more information later about where I’m going, and probably another blog entry from my travels in the US before I leave for briefing in Amsterdam, but I want to take a moment to honor the city which I knew so well from the 70s through the 90s, but haven’t spent more than a week in since 1997. Having spent the 12 years since then largely in mediterranean climates (LA and SF) or in the tropics, I’d truly forgotten the robust bursting expressions of life and color that characterize the temperate spring. So herewith an ode to NYC in spring, now that summer has come and I’m leaving NYC. Enjoy. Stay tuned for more regular updates and photos since I’ll be traveling again.
…Yes, Brooklyn is part of New York City and dear to my heart as my home for a decade. Above and below – Brooklyn Botanic Garden during cherry blossom season, and Grand Army Plaza in the heart of Brooklyn by Prospect Park & the Brooklyn Public Library.
Some of my readers haven’t been to NYC and I’ve mostly aimed my NYC blog posts at folks outside the US who might consider visiting some time. I’ve always told European friends, in particular, that American cities are nothing special compared to European cities, and I stand by that; it’s our vast natural landscapes of endless variety and (underfunded) national parks that make the US a top-notch tourist destination, in my view. That said, the US has several cities that are chock full of great architecture, museums, parks, restaurants and people – even if none can hold a candle to ‘old-world’ cities like Athens, Istanbul, Varanasi or Beijing when it comes to history. The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens were one of my favorite weekend haunts when I lived in NYC. You see why, I’m sure.
Since April I’ve taken a weekly conversation class at the Alliance Francaise – French Institute in NYC – another of those great NYC resources that everyone should check out, with really excellent classes and good membership benefits and programs. Every Saturday morning I’ve taken the A train to Columbus Circle, beautifully renovated and now a lovely magnet for strollers and walkers at the southwestern corner of Central Park, and walked through the park to my class over on Madison Avenue, past (Manhattan’s) Grand Army plaza at the southeast corner of Central Park, home to NYC’s famous Plaza Hotel and, on the day I took the photos below, many beautiful April tulips. (American history lesson for the curious: the Grand Army was the Grand Army of the Republic, aka the Union or northern army which deafeated the Confederate Army in the American Civil War, which for those of you who don’t know was an indescribably deadly and prolonged war from which the country took many decades to recover, and in some ways still has not. NYC’s population and economic might were important assets for the Union side, the city supported the war effort, and thus NYC has two famous Grand Army Plazas in the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, which until 1896 was a separate city. The history of the names is more complicated, but go to Wikipedia if you want more.)