Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Autumn in New York

Amity Street in Cobble Hill, round the corner from home, walking to the subway, some nice oaks.

Still in Brooklyn, a gingko on Court Street and some Boston Ivy on a parking garage on Pacific.

And then the Upper West Side. Designing gardens in New York means that I travel around the city quite a bit, which is very good for kicking me out of my own domestic rut. We become very territorial about our neighbourhoods, and even more entrenched, refusing to go above 14th Street, or below 54th, or south of Canal, or north of it, or above 110th, or to Upper East Side, or Bay Ridge, God forbid...One could write reams about it. Or over a bridge or off the island. Don't even talk about Jersey. Our neighbourhoods becomes our towns and villages and while this helps to keep them distinct in flavour it also make us arrogant and complacent about what we like and don't. Kind of like politics. We need to get out more.

I've designed three gardens on the Upper West Side this year but they have been nearer Central Park. Yesterday I visited an address off West End Avenue, and walked up Riverside Drive for few blocks, to see the trees turning. From there one looks down onto Riverside Park and the Hudson River, below. There was a feeling of old trees and gracious buildings and sort of inherent and relaxed gentility, which took me by surprise. Very nice. I found myself thinking defecting thoughts. I, too, am territorial and like Brooklyn. I find the Upper East Side (the UWS's twin across the park) to be - with notable exceptions - very uptight about its own brand of gentility, which feels rather purchased and pinched, and consequently find myself walking its streets rather like a stiff-legged, wary dog. On Riverside Drive yesterday I sauntered like confident cat.

I'm talking rubbish, clearly, but I know what I mean.

I didn't know about this. The Soldiers and Sailor's Memorial, at 89th Street. The link describes chains and fencings-off, but it is outdated, as the place was clean and in fairly good nick.


  1. Defection? Leaving Sahadi's behind? (no pun intended.) Crossing a bri-dge? I can't believe my eyes! ;-)

  2. Hmmm, well, they have Zabar's (CROISSANTS: heeeeeere FrenchieFrenchie). And the original Fairway (cheeeeese). They also have old ladies with sharp elbows and lethal shopping carts


    But..sniff. Sahadi's. I don't know.

  3. I used to live up there, very close to the Soldiers & Sailors Monument. It's quite nice, really, the further west you go.

    But, sadly, it has changed like all of Manhattan. Lots less diverse than it used to be.

  4. Never having been to New York (yet!), and knowing it only from readings I do love your little jaunts.The song"New York State of Mind" always runs through my daily viewing of the blog.


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