Just because the area of Central Park north of Jackie Onassis Reservoir may not be as famous or well-traversed – it’s certainly not for filmmakers – doesn’t mean it wants for a beauty all its own compared to the southern region and The Ramble, more popular with city-dwellers and tourists alike.
Beginning at 110th Street, Central Park’s northern tip is instantly striking. The flat lawns to the left make way for the rise of its mountainous walking trails that are famous for birdwatching. A sign informs me that over 200 species of bird either make the area their home or use it is a migrational stop (the rest of the park works in much the same way, but in less of a compacted fashion). When trekking this rocky segment of the park it is easy to forget that Central Park isn’t just an escape from the clichéd hustle and bustle of the city (why you would move here if you don’t like the aforementioned hustle and bustle is beyond me), but an escape from everything. If it weren’t for a news helicopter flying overhead you’d be forgiven for forgetting that you’re right in the middle of an island with three million occupants.
It’s easy to find a spot anywhere in this section of the park that is ideal for quiet, even contemplative relaxation. The constant chirping, whistling, and cooing trills of the wildlife mix perfectly with the beautiful surrounds that come in multiple shades of green. I found a rocky resting place on The Cliff outside the oldest building in the park – the Blockhouse, built in 1814 – which can be seen here.
From there one can head to a spot known as The Great Hill. Described by the Central Park Conservatory as “open hilltop meadow” that was once used as a viewing point for carriage riders to view the Hudson River that had eventually vanished due to tree growth. The area has had a remarkable transformation from its lowest point in the 1980s when it had been deserted and dilapidated, but which now hosts picnics, joggers, outdoor theatre and cinema events, as well as art workshops. The large expanse of space on the early-afternoon time that I visited was occupied by little more than a few lounging workers on a lunch break (the suit jacket over the back of a bench would at least imply that), book-reading sunbakers, and one attention-grabbing tourist couple who decided to throw around a frisbee in the barest minimum of clothing allowed in a public place frequented by families.
From there the region is a series of tree-lined paths. There’s a curious amount of joy that comes with discovering a tucked away cubbyhole that looks as undiscovered as you’re likely to find in a place such as this. On this warm 26-degree day (that’s a fraction under 80 degrees Fahrenheit) it remained quiet and gorgeous.
The true ace in the hole of Central Park’s north, however, is a blissfully tranquil and stunningly gorgeous area known as The Pool. Surely the most under-utilised gem of Central Park’s mass design. The trick is to find your own little nook and indulge in the splendour of the grass (so to speak). I found a smooth rocky formation on the edge of the pond mere metres away from the ducks gliding on the surface, the willow tree dragging its limbs across the rippling water, and even a romancing couple sharing a glass of afternoon wine.
It’s like a scene from The Wind in the Willows if you ignore the group of cyclists, football-throwing college students, and the menagerie of accents that populate an areas such as this in a city like New York. It proves that there’s always much