The Magic of New York City: Central Park in the Snow

New York City is a crowded city, with almost 9 million residents and countless tourists. A noisy city, with the roar of jet engines overhead (especially if you live in Queens, home to both LaGuardia and JFK airports), the revving motors and honking horns in constant traffic jams, the clanking and disembodied announcements of the subway trains. A smelly city, particularly on trash collection day – especially in the hot summer months. A gritty city, not always clean despite constant efforts, trash blowing if there’s a strong wind. A busy city, with everyone seeking to get to their destinations, little time to spare to enjoy the unexpected or connect with a stranger on the way.

It’s stimulating, but exhausting as well. That’s why a snow day in the city is so wonderful. The snow blankets the city, softening its harsh edges and creating a new world. And there’s nowhere better to go when the snow is falling than Central Park. The park is magical in the snow, and the cares of the day melt away as I walk for hours along the winding paths.

New York City had this kind of snow last week, resulting in my classes being canceled. We seized the opportunity to explore Central Park in the snow, meandering until we became too cold and wet to continue (and then stopping at a pub for a while to warm up). Here’s a few of my photos from my walk – I hope that you enjoy!


It’s been a while since I’ve joined Jo’s Monday Walk – and, as always, I never do it on a Monday. If you haven’t checked out Jo’s blog, Restless Jo, I recommend it!

Hunting a City-wide Art Installation: Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Imagine an art installation with more than 300 separate pieces, scattered throughout all five boroughs of New York City. The scale seems almost impossible, but that is exactly what Chinese-born artist Ai Weiwei has accomplished with his new exhibition, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. The exhibition, which is sponsored by Public Art Fund, draws its title from the line of the Robert Frost poem, “Mending Wall.” Ai Weiwei uses his art to draw attention to the plight of the millions of refugees around the world seeking shelter from violence in refugee camps and through immigration. Some of the sites symbolize the types of barriers that exist for refugees, while others personalize refugees’ experiences. Some are constructed of heavy, cold metals; others of flimsy panels that are moved by the breeze. It’s a rich treasure trove to discover, if one is persistent and has some endurance.

Because of the scope of the exhibition, I’ve focused my attentions so far on Manhattan, where the largest number of sites are located. Over the course of two days I walked more than 15 miles, scouring neighborhood after neighborhood: the Lower East Side; the Financial District near the World Trade Center site; Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park; the Flatiron District; Midtown and the southeast corner of Central Park; the Upper East Side; and East Harlem. During my walks, I found numerous parts of the exhibition, usually with the help of this online map, but I have so many more that I want to discover. I guess it’s a good thing that the exhibition continues through February 11, 2018. Each piece I found added another nuance to my understanding of the whole, and it was just as delightful to find a small banner as it was to see a large installation.

So let me give you a visual sense of the exhibition, starting with the larger, metal structures. My favorite of these is Gilded Cage, located on the southeast corner of Central Park. When I clicked on this site on the map, I found this explanation of Gilded Cage:

For the entrance to Central Park, Ai has created a giant gilded cage that simultaneously evokes the luxury of Fifth Avenue and the privations of confinement. Visitors are able to enter its central space, which is surrounded by bars and turnstiles. Functioning as a structure of both control and display, the work reveals the complex power dynamics of repressive architecture.

From the outside, Gilded Cage looks like this:

From the inside, the view depends on where you look. The installation very much feels like a cage, as you can tell from this photo (and makes a good backdrop for personal photos as well).

But when you look up, the view is different, with the open design at the top somehow giving me a sense of hope, an alternative perspective of the problem.

Then there is this 37-foot tall structure, titled Arch, placed in the center of the Washington Square arch.

Or how about Five Fences, with each “fence” covering a window of the Cooper Union building near Astor Place.

There are smaller structures built around certain bus shelters, less imposing, like the one visible here.

There are also Greek-style friezes and photos on advertising platforms around the city, but my favorite parts of the exhibition are among the more than 200 banners attached to lampposts around the city. Each one has an image from a different photograph, historical and modern, of immigrant and refugees. The online map provides more information about when and where each banner photo was taken, but I’m going to focus on the images on the banners in my photos below. These photos also show the interesting contrasts you’ll sometimes see between banners and nearby buildings, as well as the challenges associated with finding and photographing banners among the trees. The images are reach, showing the full range of human emotions.

For my last photos, I’ll show you the banners at the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side. These banners are attached to the side of the building and are in stark contrast to the vibrant mural painted below. If you look closely at the banners, you can see a scene of refugees attempting to make their way to safety.

A final note: One of the benefits of writing this blog over the past couple of years is that I’ve had the opportunity to read many other blogs as well, and in the process of made some blogging friends around the world. Today’s post is dedicated to two of those blogging friends. First, to Meg, an Australian who writes the blog snippetsandsnaps ~ Potato Point and Beyond. Meg celebrated a birthday last week, and I want to wish her a happy birthday! She recently read a NY Times article about the subject of this post and has been patiently waiting for me to get my post up. Second, to Jo, an Englishwoman with Polish roots who craves the sun of the Portuguese Algarve region. Jo writes a wonderful blog called Restless Jo and hosts the weekly Jo’s Monday Walks. Since I walked so many miles on my hunt for Ai Weiwei’s installations, I will offer this post for next week’s Monday Walk as well. So here’s a blog toast to two blogging friends, Meg and Jo!

Central Park’s Conservatory Garden in the Spring

This is a post that is almost out of season (after all, Spring is over in a matter of days), but my busy schedule during this past semester meant that I never posted about a delightful walk I took several weeks ago in Central Park. Before we turn to Summer I thought I would revisit it, bringing you along with me this time.

One thing I love about Central Park is its vast size – if I fancy a long trek, I can explore for hours. If I have the time, I won’t start at the southern end of the park, at 59th Street. That part of the park is too busy, too close to hotels and tourist attractions. Most tourists travel only so far into the park, making those southern paths crowded in good weather. Often, I’m in the mood for a more introspective walk and seek the quiet of the park’s northern end instead. Today, we have the time so let’s head north. Let’s start with the Conservatory Garden, which we last explored in Autumn.

The Conservatory Garden in Spring is a feast for the eyes. After the cold dreariness of Winter, the greens appear more vibrant. Leaves are unfolding on the trees, each variety a slightly different shade. The yew tips are a bright chartreuse, in contrast with the darker old growth. The varying greens provide a backdrop for the Spring blooms we’ll discover along our way, some delicate, even tiny, while others bold and bright.

First we come to the lavender-tinged wisteria pergola, with the yew shrubs fanned out below.

To either side of the pergola stretch espalier trees, their twisted trunks and branches stretched across brick walls.

But now we’re on a search for flowers. Let’s see what we discover along the way. I’m not sure what these are, but I enjoyed the tight buds and pure white petals.

Here’s some just-blooming azaleas, their magenta flecks reminding me somehow of freckles.

And some Delaware Valley white azaleas, as well.

On to more flowers. We find daffodils.

Bright orange tulips.

Entire beds of tulips bordered by grape hyacinth, a riot of colors. Upon closer inspection, the tulips show the effects of the elements, but from a distance they are still glorious.

Here’s a favorite of mine, the lilacs. The sweet fragrance brings back memories of childhood, when we had lilacs of every color – white, pale lavender, and darker purple. I stop, remembering those simple days when my sister and I played outside next to the lilacs for hours, decorating our dolls and mud-pies with the flowers. Are you breathing in the scent with me?

Now on to another of my favorite, the alium or ornamental onion. These are in various stages of bloom, making them very interesting indeed.

How about a few more? Some delicate Siberian Bugloss peaking up through the leaves.

And the cushion spurge, its bright yellow flowers almost glowing.

Let’s step out of the Conservatory Garden and take a stroll towards the Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy Reservoir. There are few flowers along this route, and we have to dodge cyclists and runners periodically, but it is a peaceful, overcast day. There are some trees blooming in the distance to admire along the way.

Soon we reach the reservoir and are standing on the edge of the one-way path around its waters. What beautiful views! Look closely – there are some Japanese cherry trees blooming on the other side, and we have some impressive perspectives of the city skyline, looking first westward to the Upper West Side and then south towards Midtown.

Finally, as we head to one of the paths leading out of Central Park, we stumble upon this monument to former New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel. Curious as to why Mitchel, among so many mayors in the city’s history, had been honored with a monument, I did a little research. I discovered that Mitchel served as mayor from 1914 to 1917 and was the youngest mayor in the city’s history when elected at age 34. In a time of rampant corruption in city politics, Mitchel gained a reputation for being a reformer. Once the United States entered the First World War, Mitchel enlisted in the Army Air Corps. (He had just lost his reelection bid.) Unfortunately, Mitchel was killed in a tragic training accident in Louisiana in 1918 – he fell from his plane to the ground some 500 feet below.

And with that brief history lesson, our exploration is over for the day. I think this walk is a good one for Jo’s Monday Walks, don’t you? If you have checked out Jo’s blog, I recommend it!

Central Park’s North End

As much as I love the city, sometimes I need to spend some time in a quieter, slower green space (especially during stressful times like it’s been recently here). Thankfully, that’s possible to find even in the midst of the city. There are some great parks throughout the city, but last weekend I wanted to see if the leaves were changing in Central Park. Most people who visit Central Park visit the southern end of the park (and I’ve previously written about that part of the park here), but the northern end is a hidden gem. That’s where we decided to head this time.

Central Park stretches from 59th Street all the way to 110th Street, and we headed towards the entrance to the park at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue, on the east side of the park. Here, visitors can walk through the Vanderbilt Gate into the Conservatory Garden, one of my favorite sections of Central Park.





Even though it is Autumn, the conservatory garden still offers a variety of colorful flowers – all with a fall vibe.







And there are also two special fountains located at opposite parts of the garden. First, there’s this delightful fountain, known as the Burnett Fountain, which can be found in the South Garden. The fountain is a tribute to children’s book author Frances Hodgson Burnett and is surrounded by a lily pond.



In the North Garden there’s also this vibrant, joyful fountain, known as the Untermyer Fountain.


Throughout all of Central Park, including the Conservatory Garden, you can find benches where you can sit and take a break. They are great locations for people-watching (and dog-watching, as many locals walk their dogs in Central Park). Many of the benches have been sponsored, and small plaques give information about the sponsorship. (In fact, there’s an entire Instagram account dedicated entirely to sponsored benches: @centralparkbenches)





The formality of the Conservatory Gardens is restful and appeals to my orderly mind, but the walk doesn’t have to end there. If you continue further north, you will soon stumble upon the Harlem Meer. Across the water sits the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, which offers a variety of special park programming.



After meandering around the Harlem Meer, if you keep walking you can explore the shaded North Woods. This is one of the hillier parts of the parks, and it periodically offers small clearings with rocks, fallen trees, or benches to rest on. Eventually, you’ll crest the top of the Great Hill, an open area where local New Yorkers play a variety of sports. It’s fun to sit and people watch, and through the trees it’s possible to spy some of the iconic apartment buildings on the city’s Upper West Side. Continue along the path traveling south once again, and there are more waterways, quaint wooden bridges and benches, and fall foliage.






I think this post would be a good one for Jo’s Monday Walks. If you haven’t checked out Jo’s blog, I recommend it!

NYC’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade 2016

It’s been said that New York City has the largest Puerto Rican population outside of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans certainly are significant part of New York City’s cultural diversity and its residents. In fact, in the 2010 U.S. Census almost 9 percent of New York City’s population was Puerto Rican, and the numbers have continued to grow in the past several years. In celebration of New York City’s Puerto Rican residents, the city hosted the 59th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 12, 2016.


Like in almost all New York City parades, the New York Police Department, New York Fire Department, and various other law enforcement and government agencies marched in the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Often, these agencies’ employees have founded their own Hispanic or Latino cultural associations within their respective agencies.





I particularly liked the vintage police cars and fire engine.




Many local and state politicians participate in the parade as well, including New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. Mayor de Blasio is the one in the white shirt, a traditional Puerto Rican shirt, and waiving the Puerto Rican flag. I heard some of the parade bystanders react with pride because of his clothing choice. (Members of the New York City Council, the governor of the State of New York, and numerous other political figures also marched.)


But the best parts of the parade were the elements of Puerto Rican culture. There were numerous dance groups and folk characters in costume. There were thousands of red, white, and blue Puerto Rican flags waving in the breeze. Most importantly, there were parade marchers and bystanders enjoying themselves and celebrating their heritage, and the energy was contagious!














This parade has quite a few people marching in support of various political causes and environmental issues in Puerto Rico or in some way involving Puerto Rican people. One of my favorite photos from the parade was of this couple marching with others in opposition to an environmental concern.


The parade travels north along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, from 44th Street to 79th Street. Central Park stretches along the parade route starting at 59th Street, offering welcome shade for bystanders but some challenges for taking good photos at times.

Rooftop Views from the Met Museum

Many visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art don’t realize that there’s a hidden gem on the roof of the museum – the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. The Roof Garden is open from May through October each year, and there is a special rooftop exhibition each season. This year’s exhibition is a single, large sculpture by British artist Cornelia Parker titled Transitional Object (PsychoBarn).


The sculpture reminded me of a haunted house, which made a lot of sense once I read the museum’s description of it:

“A large-scale sculpture by acclaimed British artist Cornelia Parker, inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and by two emblems of American architecture—the classic red barn and the Bates family’s sinister mansion from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho—comprises the fourth annual installation of site-specific works commissioned for The Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.

Nearly 30 feet high, the sculpture is fabricated from a deconstructed red barn and seems at first to be a genuine house, but is in fact a scaled-down structure consisting of two facades propped up from behind with scaffolding. Simultaneously authentic and illusory, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) evokes the psychological associations embedded in architectural spaces.”

When I turned around and looked the other direction, I captured this reflection of the sculpture in the museum’s windows.


Beyond the sculpture, the Roof Garden offers some amazing views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline. If you look northwest across Central Park, you can capture a glimpse of the Eldorado’s double towers. The Eldorado, with its art deco architectural details, was constructed as a luxury apartment building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Some of the Eldorado’s residents over the years have included author Sinclair Lewis; actors Alec Baldwin, Faye Dunaway, and Michael J. Fox; radio personality Garrison Keillor; and musician Moby.


The lush green of Central Park is even more evident as you look south from the roof, and you will have even more city skyline views. (It was a bit hazy when I took this photo, but still beautiful views.)


And then to the southeast there are the luxury apartment buildings that line Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side.


The rooftop is open in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays (until 8:00 pm), like the rest of the museum (although the rest of the museum is open until 9:00 pm on those days). On those evenings, the Roof Garden even offers a bar where visitors can purchase a variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.

As a reminder, the best way to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is by public transportation. If traveling by subway, take the 4, 5, or 6 train to 86th Street, and then walk west to Fifth Avenue. You can also reach the museum by bus on the M1, M2, M3, or M4 routes. If taking one of these routes going north, you will travel up Madison Avenue to the 83rd Street stop. If coming from points further north, take one of these bus routes south along Fifth Avenue to the 82nd Street stop, right next to the museum.

Shakespeare in Central Park


One of the hottest tickets in New York City each summer is not a Broadway show and is absolutely free: the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. Although the performances are free, the tickets are not easy to come by. There are only two ways to get them – (1) showing up early in the morning and waiting in line for hours at either the Public Theater’s box office at Astor Place or the Delacorte Theater box office in Central Park; or (2) entering the ticket lottery on the TodayTix cellphone app. (You can also get tickets by making a large donation to the Public Theater to support its programs – I didn’t count that option since it isn’t free.)

Because I’m not excited about waiting in line for hours at a time, we have relied on the ticket lottery instead. Last summer, we entered the lottery every day, but with no luck. This summer, we once again began entering every day, even though I had basically given up all hope after last year’s failure. Imagine my surprise when I learned that we won two tickets to last night’s performance of The Taming of the Shrew!

shakespeare tickets

Performances start at 8:00 pm, and we were told we could pick up our tickets from the Delacorte Theater box office between 5:30 and 7:30 pm. We were warned not to be late – after 7:30 pm any remaining tickets are handed out to people waiting in the standby line. We arrived in plenty of time and, after receiving our tickets found a park bench near the theater to wait and watch people. Many people bring picnic dinners, which they eat while sitting on the nearby lawn. There are also plenty of snacks and drinks (including wine and beer) for sale at the theater. The staff will even let you bring your own food and drink into the theater, although glass is prohibited.

While we waiting for the play to begin, I noticed these two bronze sculptures located next to the theater. The first is titled Romeo and Juliet, and the second is The Tempest.



We also listened to this saxophonist play for a while.


Soon, it was time to enter the theater! The Delacourte Theater is perfectly sized – I really don’t think that there’s a bad seat in the house. It’s open air, and we watched the sun begin to set as we waited for the play to begin. Our own seats were excellent. We were only six rows back from the stage, right at stage center. We took in the stage set with interest.


Unfortunately, no photos are permitted during performances, so that’s the last photo I have for this adventure. But The Taming of the Shrew was amazing! While I’ve always found the play entertaining, at the same time the misogynistic plot often makes me cringe, even taking into account the fact that it is from an entirely different era in history. This version put a new twist on the original story line, however – the entire cast was made up of women! Some of the best-performed roles were those of the male characters, including the role of Petruchio, played by Tony and Olivier award winner Janet McTeer. (The comedy’s director, Phyllida Lloyd, has also been nominated for a Tony award.) The entire performance was thoughtfully, artfully done.

The Taming of the Shrew continues through June 26, but that will not be the end of this year’s Shakespeare in the Park series. From July 19 to August 14, Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, a rarely performed play, will be offered.

For those traveling to the Delacorte Theater, the website provides directions here.

(Note: TodayTix is a great app – you can get last-minute discounted tickets to Broadway shows without waiting in long lines. You have to be flexible, as not every show is available every day. And you must also be realistic. The musical Hamilton is the hottest ticket in town right now, and you aren’t going to find discounted tickets on TodayTix for it at this point.)

St. Paul’s Chapel


In lower Manhattan, there is a relatively small chapel and graveyard, located across Church Street from the World Trade Center site and surrounded by tall buildings. It is known as St. Paul’s Chapel. Although visitors might be tempted to walk right by the chapel without going in, St. Paul’s is definitely worth a visit.

St. Paul’s Chapel has roots going back to the colonial period. Completed in 1766, the chapel is an example of Georgian architecture. It was built as a chapel-of-ease for parishioners of Trinity Church, also located in lower Manhattan, who felt that Trinity’s location was not always convenient. Both St. Paul’s Chapel and Trinity Church are part of the Episcopal Church. (Episcopalians trace their roots to the Church of England.) Today, St. Paul’s is known as Manhattan’s oldest church building still in use. The stone and brown trim exterior presents a solemn image, especially with the weathered gravestones surrounding the chapel, but the interior is light and bright.


St. Paul’s Chapel has a special connection to the early political history of the United States. After George Washington’s inauguration as the nation’s first president in 1789, he walked to the chapel to pray. (If you recall from my previous post about Federal Hall National Memorial, New York City was the first U.S. capitol.) The chapel has a replica of Washington’s pew, as well as one of the earliest paintings of the Great Seal of the United States.


More recently, St. Paul’s close proximity to the World Trade Center site meant that the chapel played a special role in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001. Amazingly, St. Paul’s Chapel was not damaged when the World Trade Center towers came down – even the windows survived. (However, the interior of the chapel was covered in dust from the debris.) The chapel quickly became an important refuge for the recovery workers in the days and months following 9/11, with volunteers offering the workers physical and mental support. Because of its efforts and its location, St. Paul’s became a site for memorials to the victims of 9/11, as well as the host for messages of support for the recovery workers. Today, the chapel offers a continuing memorial to the victims, and visitors can tour exhibits showing photographs of the chapel’s role as well as messages of sympathy and hope from people around the world. It is a somber and inspiring experience.




Outside the chapel, visitors will find the Bell of Hope, which the Lord Mayor of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury presented to the people of New York City on the first anniversary of 9/11. One of the special things about this bell is that it was made by Whitechapel Foundry in England, also known for creating the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and Big Ben in London.


How can you get to St. Paul’s Chapel? It is located between Broadway and Church Street, with Fulton Street as the cross street. There are numerous subway stations located near the chapel, but here are the closest ones. Take the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, or Z trains to the Fulton Street Station, the R to Cortland Street, or the E to the World Trade Center station. If traveling from New Jersey, you can also take the PATH train to the World Trade Center stop.

Jacob Riis Exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York


I’ve been fascinated with the photography of Jacob A. Riis since I was first introduced to it as a college student. When I heard that the Museum of the City of New York was hosting an exhibition of his photographs, papers, and other items, I had to visit immediately. I’ve since been back several times, and each time I discover something different than what I’ve noticed before.

Riis was a journalist, photographer, and social reformer who lived and worked in New York City in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His black and white photography was published in contemporary newspapers and magazines, as well as in best-selling books such as How the Other Half Lives (1890). Through his photography, writing, and public speaking, Riis brought public attention to the plight of New York City’s urban poor. A visit to the exhibition is a must for those who would like to learn more about the history of the city, including immigrants and others who lived in poverty at the turn of the twentieth century. It’s also a draw for fans of vintage photography, as the exhibition contains incredible photographs.

Here are a few examples of the photographs that you will see in the exhibition. (All of Riis’s original photographs are protected by glass, of course, making it difficult to photograph the exhibit, but they will still give you a glimpse of the exhibition’s power.) This first one is titled “Five Cents a Spot,” 1889-1890. As the exhibition explains, Riis took this photograph during the raid of an illegal lodging house, where workers could pay five cents a night to sleep on the floor.


This second one, titled “Little Susie,” 1892, documented the life of a working child. Susie completed piecework at home to help support her family. (In piecework, a worker is paid a very small amount for each completed item rather than being paid an hourly wage.) Susie and her family lived in a tenement building called Gotham Court, which lacked plumbing, ventilation, or natural light.


This final photograph is titled “Italian Mother and Her Baby in Jersey Street,” 1888-1889. This single windowless room was the family’s entire apartment, and all of their possessions are visible as well.


One of the things I really enjoyed was this map of Manhattan that was placed in the middle of the exhibition. The map shows where some of the photographs had been taken, allowing the visitor to compare conditions during Riis’s time with what those areas of the city look like today.


The final part of the exhibition was also really interesting. One thing that Riis did to focus attention on the conditions of people living in poverty was public speaking engagements, where he showed lantern slide versions of his photographs. You can experience what it was like to attend one of those presentations by watching a narrated lantern slide show of the photographs yourself. I found the overall experience powerful and moving. This particular slide shows some of the nefarious “Dock Rats,” who were known for their illegal activity, including violent robberies.


The exhibition ends on March 20, 2016, so there is only about a month to see it here in New York City before it’s over. After the exhibition leaves the Museum of the City of New York, it will be traveling to Washington, DC, and Denmark, so keep your eyes open for it if you live in or will be traveling to those locations. (Riis was an immigrant from Denmark, explaining why his work will be exhibited there.)

How can you get to the Museum of the City of New York by public transportation? To travel by subway, take the 6 train to the 103rd Street Station. You can also get there by bus – just take the M1, M3, or M4 to Madison Avenue and 104th Street, and then walk one block west to Fifth Avenue. The museum is across Fifth Avenue from the northern end of Central Park, so if you have the time after your visit to the museum, take the opportunity to explore the park as well.

Central Park Zoo

The Central Park Zoo may be small, but it’s always a fun visit. We went most recently on Christmas Day (New York City zoos are always open on Christmas, if you’re ever looking for something outdoors to do over the holidays), but it’s a great place to go on any occasion. In fact, I recommend going to any of the zoos during cooler winter weather. The zoos are less crowded, and the animals tend to be more active in cold weather. And if you get cold, there are always indoor exhibits to go into and warm yourself up.

Every time I go to the zoo, it’s a different experience. That’s one of the great things about the animals. I’ll notice something different about them each time, which is one of the reasons why a good zoo, which takes care of its animals, can promote public awareness about wildlife conservation.

One of the first exhibits you will come to is the outdoor sea lion pool. On this visit, the sea lions were swimming, but I was fortunate that one kept poking his head up out of the water near me every time he swam by.


After touring the Penguin and Sea Bird House, we walked by the harbor seals and on to the grizzly bears’ enclosure. (The penguins are entertaining, but the low light and wet glass don’t make for good photos.) It was nap time, but the bears were still on view.



The zoo has beautiful snow leopards, but like most cats (large and small) they weren’t very cooperative for photographs. We saw them both though, although it took some effort! Can you find one in this photo?


My favorite of all of the Central Park Zoo animals are the red pandas. One was sleepy and tucked himself up in a tree, but the other one was mischievous-looking and very active.



There are other animals at the Central Park Zoo as well, but my final stop on every visit – another favorite – is the Tropic Zone. The building holds several types of animals, but for me the best part is the birds, which fly freely inside the main room of the building. A boardwalk wanders throughout the lush environment of a rainforest, with steps winding up through the canopy of the trees. Sometimes a bird will land on a railing next to visitors, and there are always colorful exotic birds to admire throughout the walk.



If you visit the Central Park Zoo with children, you can also the Tisch Children’s Zoo next door. The Children’s Zoo is host to domesticated farm animals and has plenty of places for children to play (and, as the zoo website claims, is home to the only cow in Manhattan!).

The Central Park Zoo is easily accessed by public transportation. If traveling by bus, the M1, M2, M3, and M4 buses all have stops close to the Central Park Zoo (if going North, on Madison Avenue; if going South, on Fifth Avenue). It’s also not a far walk from the subway. Take the R train to the 5th Avenue/59th Street station, the F train to the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street station, or the 6 train to 68th Street/Hunter College.