Monday, February 11, 2013

Fort Tryon under Snow


On the A train on Saturday, we were heading for Inwood, at the end of the line, and the northern tip of Manhattan (and field garlic country, for this forager). At the last minute we changed our minds and decided to see Fort Tryon - an Olmsted-designed park - instead; it's two stops south of Inwood Hill Park.


The subway station at 190th Street is deep inside Manhattan schist and one climbs steeply to return to the light.

And what light.


There were a lot of people strolling, but the snow was clean, the air like champagne, and there was not a human being without a smile on its face. If the pulse of the city had been taken on this afternoon, it would would have been found to be vibrating at a pitch of happiness rare in town of 8.3 millions souls. United in a strange and wonderful whiteness we did what New Yorkers never do: greeted each other with smiles and nods as we passed.


Small, colds winds came off the water of the Hudson below and caused minute blizzards of ice crystals, flying from branches in the high sunlight. Pictured above and below is the Heather Garden - restored to Olmsted's design after serious 1970's and 80's neglect, and one of the first gardens resurrected by Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project.


Tobogganing was in full swing.



We climbed, heading towards The Cloisters, to the north (below), and passing snowboarders and snowman builders, and people just sitting, and looking.


And then we dipped again, and with the descent we lost the sunlight and were in a pale blue world of shadow and never-ending trees and more snow.


The Brueghel world beneath. 


And back up another hill. 

I had forgotten about the "suggested donation " at the Cloisters. $50, suggested the machine. I blanched. To put this in perspective, The Cloisters is located on a hill above Washington Heights, traditionally a lower income Dominican neighbourhood, with a smattering of yuppies and artists and  better-off residents. $50 for two. I thought that was rude, inappropriate and more than discriminatory. I felt guilty paying only $25. Welcome, neighbours.


The great, hushed rooms smelled of the orange blossom on the small trees with green oranges in an arcade of old stone and windows facing south. Icicles dripped in the courtyard.


With a cellphone message asking us for early help for an evening party, we turned back to the east and found our subway station again, entering a subterranean passage at the foot of the rocky hill, and riding the A train back to Brooklyn, under the cold and snowy length of the island of Manhattan, dipping beneath the East Rover, rising again to leave us at Borough Hall.



23 comments:

  1. Membership in the Met is a good way to support this museum as well and means you do not pay when you visit. But it really IS a suggested donation, and there was no reason to give the full $25 per person if it is a stretch for you. It is an extraordinary place.

    Rather than climb out of the station, was their excellent old manually operated elevator not in service? Or have they closed that down? I haven't lived in NYC for many years, but last time I visited the Park & Cloisters, about 12 years ago, it was still in use.

    Love the photos. Wish I could be there. My own snowstorm experience happened in the greater Boston area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a good solution, CK, if one visits the Met often enough.

      I still think $25 per person suggestion is egregious. It is suggested vocally by the person at the entrance, and then again when it appears on the register - and seems all about shaming visitors into paying more than they feel comfortable doing. It certainly excludes the entire neighourhood.

      Elevator, yes I believe it was in service!

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  2. Wow, love this line" "There were a lot of people strolling, but the snow was clean, the air like champagne, and there was not a human being without a smile on its face. "

    I was cooped up for most of the day Saturday working (although I did manage to do a little loop through Battery Park to enjoy the snow), and so was green with envy when I saw my husband's photos from his romp in the fairly-untouched North Woods of Central Park.

    Looks like y'all had a lovely day, too——must try to see Inwood Park in the snow. Last summer we biked up all the way from Lower Manhattan, would be so nice to experience it in the exact opposite clime, too.

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  3. The Met is also "suggested donation of $20. each", it was $40. the last time for the two of us, because I felt guilty not giving the "suggested" donation.
    However, next visit, I think we will give $10. per person, instead.

    I love the Cloisters, and that magnificent tapestry. I used to go when I was a kid with my grandparents. It's such a special place.

    Glad you got your fill of beautiful snow in Inwood Park, (we drove into Brooklyn last night for pizza in Greenpoint, and it was a hassle to park and get around), but now let's THINK SPRING!

    My 14" is now slush. :( It was pretty while it lasted.

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    Replies
    1. Slush here too. The terrace is prettier than the street. Slush puppies??? I still have clean snow :-)

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  4. thank you for the beautiful pictures and comments. i was in fort tryon and inwood park last summer and it is nice to see it under a layer of snow.

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  5. great pics...enjoyed a lot.....

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  6. awesome. thank you!

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  7. Beautiful photos and so evocative to this Denverite who lived in Washington Heights as a child, in a very different world -- safe, clean, innocent, prosoerously middle-class. What memories -- the old elevator from ground level to the cliffside park entrance! That amazing steep incline coming uo from the subway station, the magnificent Hudson River and GW Bridge views from the Park. Henry Kissinger grew up in the Heights and went to high school
    with my father's cousins. Dr Ruth still lives there, on
    Bennet Avenue overlooking the Hudson.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What good memories. And I had no idea Kissinger (I am not his No. 1 fan) grew up there...

      There is a lot to like about Washington Heights, now. In the snow I loved the fact that there was an incredibly diverse group of people playing together. Everyone laughing, smiling.


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  8. p.s., The Cloisters had no admission fee back
    then (1950s). i hope that your out of state readers might
    want to look it up online and learn the fascinating story
    of how it was founded -- by John D. Rockefeller. Thank
    you for this marvelous blog.

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  9. Lovely, lovely, lovely! 3 days of rain here in the deep South, temps high 60's,low 70's. Closet cleaned out in case we get tornadic tonight. The lamp post photo reminded me of The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. Did you see Mr. Tumnus? Katie

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    Replies
    1. Yes! Exactly what I thought, too. And no, No Mr Tumnus, sadly, because I would have liked to have had tea and toast with him. Before he turned me in, of course.

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  10. Visited The Cloisters about five years ago and don't they they were suggesting quite so much - am sure we did not "donate" that much, but it was not nearly so lovely in the spring as in the snow. What a sight!

    It's amazing how snow smooths out all the bumps and bad things on people as well as the scenery. Glad you are both enjoying it and sharing it with us. Also glad that you have it ... and, we don't!

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  11. It's a shame that Samsung plans to build a tall glass headquarters across the river from Ft. Tryon and the Cloisters, changing that view of the Palisades.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hm. Now I am ashamed of owning a Samsung :/

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    2. Actually, I was wrong. It's LG, not Samsung.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/arts/design/the-cloisters-view-is-threatened-by-lg-electronics-offices.html

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  12. My grandmother lived on Dyckman Street when I was a child and Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters were our playground for myself and my four brothers and sisters. We weren't allowed to cross streets without adult supervision so we used the underground passages to get from her apartment to the park. We spent a lot of our summers there. My father and mother were virtually divorced and we grew up on the lower east side (way before it was gentrified in the 60's and 70's) and the east river drive was our regular backyard. But we spent most school vacations and summers with my father and his mother in Inwood. I have very fond memories of that area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tainc,
      Greetings from another ex- Heights'er/Inwood neighbor. If you like, see my post above (as Anonymous) about youthful snowy days in
      Ft Tryon Park. That's amazing that you could use the tunnels -- i always thought they were dank and kind of scary. We lived on 186th St
      & Wadsworth Ave, across from St. Elizabeth's RC Church, attended PS 132 until moving to LI.
      We could see the single- family houses of Lower Inwood looking up the hill on Wadsworth
      as the Heights climbed up. Wonder what Gen. George Washington would think of the Cloisters?!

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    2. Lovely stories, tainc...thank you.

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  13. You can almost feel the light on a sunny snow day : )

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