Last week I drove-back to New York to transact some LEO Design business. Now that we no longer have a Manhattan apartment, we stay at a hotel on the Upper West Side. Until moving out of town, we had never required a hotel in the city. I must say, staying in a New York hotel is great, despite the expense.
During most visits to New York, I cross Central Park to visit an elderly friend on the Upper East Side. Traversing the park is always one of the highlights of any Manhattan visit. And photo opportunities are always plentiful.
On this trip, I pondered the enormous civilizing effect Central Park has on New York City life—especially for those lucky enough to live near to it.
Shown above, a broad field, a craggy tree line, and the angular, man-made cityscape which stands behind it. What a juxtaposition of space, shape, and varied substance! Humanity and Nature in one pastoral (and handsome) panorama.
Central Park is a masterpiece of "Man subduing Nature" (and, simultaneously, "Nature subduing Man"). This theme has intrigued poets, artists and other thinkers for thousands of years. In Japan, bonsai artists work tirelessly (for years) to create a perfectly natural effect in their miniaturized plantings—more perfect than Nature might have produced itself. Zen gardens—highly fabricated—seek to create a natural harmony which might not occur in the randomness of real life. More mundanely, think of those photo shoot hair stylists who work 16 hour days trying to get the model's hair to fall "just right" for the winning product shot—perfect and impossibly natural.
Improving on Nature is difficult. But, when it's done well, it can be very satisfying (and moving).
Shown above, a massive, turned Jonesboro Granite urn in Central Park—planted with a profusion of seasonal flora.
The brilliance of Central Park is the creation of manufactured naturalism—sometimes pastoral, sometimes wild and rustic—juxtaposed with the affects of urban reality (buildings, streets, pedestrians). This is where the park demonstrates "Nature subduing Mankind. Crossing the park (even walking alongside it) has the effect of creating calm, changing focus, reminding urban dwellers that they, too, will always be a part of Nature. The park is a grounding reminder that humanity benefits from occasional doses of Nature.
The city planners who laid-out Manhattan were wise beyond belief. That they set-aside 840+ acres for the mental, emotional and physical health of city dwellers is wonderful. These foresighted planners knew that the rich would always have places to get away: Newport, the Hamptons. But the poor and working class needed a nice place to go and relax—a place which was affordably close-at-hand. It was for the well-being of these working New Yorkers that Central Park was most critically needed.
I've always loved the "oddity" of seeing a line of buildings behind a line of trees. Such is The Majestic—a Thirties Art Deco apartment building on Central Park West. The Majestic is one of four "double tower" apartment buildings along Central Park—all visible over the tree line in the park. Her twin towers stand sentry near the park entrance at 72nd Street.
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 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