When I first moved to New York, I lived for four years in the West Fifties. This was before I opened LEO Design and, thus, still enjoyed days off on the weekend. Central Park became my backyard. Many hours were spent relaxing in Sheep's Meadow (photo below). On this trip, it was far too cold for sunbathing! But I did reminisce as I crossed the 15 acre "pasture"—enroute to visit an elderly friend on the Eastside. I tried a new route across Central Park, clutching a bag of Chinese food in one hand and my cameraphone in the other.
I came upon the Carousel—which I had never seen before—entranced by its hauntingly jolly Wurlitzer tune. The merry-go-round itself was built in 1908 and spent its first four decades in Coney Island. In 1951, it was moved to Central Park and the brick structure was erected to surround it. It's the fourth carousel on the site since the first was installed in 1871.
"Sheep's Meadow" was once a military parade ground. When Frederick Law Olmstead won the commission to redesign Central Park, he objected to the bustle of military activity in a park dedicated to "pastoral recreation." Thus, the gently rolling 15 acre plot was topped with two feet of fill from New Jersey, grass was planted and sheep were brought-in to graze. They remained pastured here until 1934. Today, the meadow is dedicated to "passive recreation"—sunbathing and picnicking (but no active sports). And the field offers one of my favorite prospects in the whole of New York: a green field, surrounded by a line of trees, behind which pokes a skyline of Art Deco apartment buildings. It is the perfect combination of "enhanced nature" and mankind living in beautiful (aesthetic) harmony.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248