Perhaps my single favorite place to visit in the NY Metropolitan area is Storm King sculpture park, which is something like two hours or so north of the city itself. My mother, who dearly loves grand sculpture of the Calder, Nevelson and Noguchi style, first introduced me to it back in the 1980s, or perhaps even earlier though I believe my first visits would have been early-mid 80s. I have fond memories (and photos) of visits there with a dear friend now long-dead of HIV; such is the nature of places one’s visited again over decades – and I also appreciate the new large works or temporary displays that appear every time I visit, about which there’ll be a caption or two scattered throughout.
In season, no visit to my mother feels complete unless we also head up to Storm King for a day. And you do need to allocate a full day for this trip, especially if you are coming from NYC…and please do try to get here , even if it feels like one thing too much – if you love nature and abstract sculpture, you won’t go wrong. So in early July we headed up with my brother for an afternoon of enjoying the art, the flowers, the nature. They’re not open during winter months, and my recent visits have been in the shoulder seasons, so this was my first chance to appreciate the glory of the wildflower beds at their summer peak. Hope you enjoy these views – and do visit, or support your nearest arts institution instead. 🙂
The mirrored fence was newly refurbished for this season so truly stands out at one edge of the lower lawn area (far center in the panorama above) – they have a more formal name for it, but I think of it as the route I I typically take toward Andy Goldsworthy’s wonderful wonderful two stone walls at Storm King, both additions of relatively recent decades…you can see shots of those in an entry I made in December 2011), and so I had fun with some arty selfies with it, though this is a piece you really do need to experience in person.
And since it was high summer, we saw a good bit of floral and natural beauty. Some time a decade or two back, they started letting large areas of the lawn flourish with higher wildflower patches rather than always mowing it all down, and the results are wonderful. I also did my usual up-close-and-personal study of a few little vegetal items that grabbed my imagination.
The piece above is isn’t my favorite – tends to give me the willies a bit too much – but I do love the wildflowers. The lawn full of Mark di Suvero scultpures, shown below with a foreground of black-eyed Susans, certainly is one of my favorite spots here…though that could be said of nearly all corners at this truly wonderful place…
The Hudson Valley is a great visual joy north of New York City, and one of its historical highlights is Hyde Park, home of Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt. Hop on Metro North from Grand Central or 125/Harlem for a gorgeous ride that takes you into the Bronx and along the riverbanks with views of Manhattan and New Jersey as the train tracks hug the shoreline nearly all the way up to Poughkeepsie, nearly two hours north of the city. Any train ride on the Hudson River line is a pleasure; on a spring day with sparkling blue skies and fresh green leaves bursting on all the trees up this hills and mountains that slowly rise as you move north, it’s a treat. I can’t recommend it enough.
Once you reach Poughkeepsie, there are usually shuttles that can take you the few miles farther north to the Franklin Delano & Eleanor Roosevelt national historic sites. I was tempted to wax political – after all, FDR was one of the masters of 20th Century American politics – but will limit myself to reminding everyone that the country had 50 years without a banking collapse, for the very first time in its history, after new regulations were put in place and enforced under FDR and subsequent administrations. (They’d been happening every 10 to 20 years from the 1780s until then.) It wasn’t until 1989 that we had another banking collapse, after eight years of Republican presidents who philosophically disapproved of government regulating business.
So in Hyde Park you have something for everyone: political history and the presidential library of FDR; the Eleanor Roosevelt historical site, which highlights her leadership in the drafting of the universal declaration of human rights (if you’ve never read this document, please do – it’s very visionary and though often ignored and disrespected, it represents admirably high aspirations), education, civil rights & integration, rights of women and children, and so on. There’s colonial history, colonial architecture, the chairs and tschotschkes the Roosevelt family collected, and simply lovely views over the Hudson Valley. A very enjoyable day trip from the city on a clear day – keep it in mind next time you have a free day in NYC!