A common phase of the experience of moving to New York from Elsewhere (in my case, VT) involves alternating, sometimes daily, between Love New York and Hate New York. Living in New York is full of inconveniences that take getting used to, and even now I have a hard time with the noise level. Still, this makes the Love New York moments all the more precious. Though I’ve been in the city for three years and am no longer swinging as wildly between Love New York and Hate New York, I had a surprising Love New York moment the other day that I wanted to share.
The moment occured on Wednesday evening, around 10:00 pm, in Central Park. I know what you’re going to say – Central Park at night?? – and in fact, this was my first time in the park past dark. A group of us had just finished a heavy German dinner on the UES, so we decided to get some exercise via the park before hailing a cab on the west side. We originally intended to stay on a path that paralleled the road, but got off track. This turned out to be a good thing, since the park has this hidden nightlife that we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. There are tons of people walking their dogs, often in little groups, and the dogs are off their leashes (I found out that they’re allowed to be after 9 pm).
As we crossed by the Great Lawn, we were treated to an amazing view of the skyline, the bright lights in stark contrast to the darkened trees. At the same spot, we chatted with two men who had impressive-looking telescopes; turns out they were amateur astronomers doing some deep-sky observation. That upended another one of my assumptions; since you can’t see much with the bare eye, I figured the light pollution from the city would render any astronomy futile. But no, we were treated to views of Saturn and Mars. The guys told us that they observe almost every night, sometimes until 2 am (the cops usually look the other way, once the curfew begins).
Anyway, not that I’d make a habit of wandering the park alone at night, but it was a very pleasant surprise to discover what Central Park at night has to offer.