Monday, July 13, 2020 -
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Riverside Park

There is something quite charming about this long and skinny park. Riverside Park, often overshadowed here in the neighborhood on the Upper West Side by her emerald, bucolic majesty, Central Park, has a vibe all its own.

When you live here in New York and want a break from the steel and concrete, the streets and the lights, you usually escape to the famous retreat of gorgeous Central Park. But Riverside Park, more of a neighborhood park for the locals, is rich with trails, winding paths, bike riders and driftwood sculptures. It stretches for about 75 blocks in length along the Hudson River.

From spring through summer and fall, the cool breezes that waft off the water by day and the wind off the water at evening are a welcome and refreshing pleasure in the muggy New York summers. As you walk, play or bike, the Hudson River views are with you.

The river defines this long and narrow park in a different kind of way by the scenic cruise ships and boats that pass by in the backdrop. The tiers of the park lead you from street level down to the old piers where, from time to time, you’ll find old railroad pieces.

In between the street level and the piers are community gardens rich with vegetables and fragrant herbs, tended by volunteers. Big trees and flowers, baseball diamonds and parks for kids are ubiquitous.

There is even a taste of history in the soldiers’ and sailors’ monument, a tribute to the Civil War.

Summertime is rich with possibilities from yoga in the park to free kayaking on weekends and, of course, New York’s famous old films under the stars.

Walking along the piers you’ll find outdoor cafes from time to time. Above, to your left or right, depending on the direction you are walking or biking, you see and hear the West Side Highway. It’s right there — but, as you take in the river, you feel like you are somewhere else.

As evening approaches the fireflies’ red and gold lights pop out randomly all around before they dim and then surprise you again with their bursts of electricity.

The streaky sunsets over the Hudson, accompanied by some old jazz animating the air from a free summer music festival nearby or, perhaps, on this night, there is the welcome silence of a quiet and moist night, lighting up New York.

Despite all the people, humidity, crowds, and concrete, New York City definitely has a summer magic.

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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