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A visual journey exploring the birds of Inwood and Northern Manhattan

Madison Square Park: When the Cold Weather Offers Advantages

From January 2009

I took this picture at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, and yes, while the day was nicer, weather-wise, than other days this week, you will notice the lack of a line at the popular hamburger stand. Cold weather provides opportunities for those wily coyotes like myself who would normally make fun of people standing in long lines at Shake Shack. No line? I reached into my backpack, found all of $4, and that's all I needed for a normal hamburger.

The temporary installation of tree huts by artist Tadashi Kawamata is particularly effective, especially for this time of year. Obviously, without foliage in the trees, the huts stand out and are noticeable. When I first saw them, and I could see many stretched out at once over the whole park, I was thrilled with the sight and in awe. They're not especially fine art objects as individual huts, but as a collection they're quite provocative. I thought many things looking at them. I thought about the tree houses I once enjoyed as a child and the types of nests that birds build and how much they're like this, and I also thought about the kinds of places people without homes end up constructing themselves. I thought about the nature of wood and how we build our dwellings out of trees, and I thought about how so many people in New York live way up high, way beyond the height of the tree line. I thought about the view from up there and how one could feel sheltered in such a place. I thought how just the presumption of the huts implied the presence of people inside them.

Tree Huts by Tadashi Kawamata on view to February 15, 2009. More info at the Madison Square Park Conservancy website.

Images of Madison Square Park by Walking Off the Big Apple, January 2009.

Writer's Note: This is the 600th post of Walking Off the Big Apple. Hard to believe.


  1. Anonymous3:36 PM

    mm when I saw the picture on Flickr, I was 100% sure Shake Shack would be involved at some point ;)

  2. Anonymous7:34 AM

    hmmm... love the atmosphere of winter in new york!

  3. Anonymous9:24 AM

    Such an interesting Blog to read.I learn something new about New York every time!
    Hope you enjoyed your burger!



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