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East Side to West Side: A Spring Walk in New York's Central Park

A funny conversation to have with either a West Side resident of Manhattan or an East Sider is how little they visit the other territory. Ask a West Sider about life east of Lexington Avenue or an East Sider about what happens on Columbus Avenue and then watch the puzzled look come over their face. It's understandable. For those of us who live here, we tend to stay within the neighborhood, whether for shopping or dining or entertainment. Venturing to the other side usually means a doctor's appointment, and it's a hassle figuring out how to get there.

Chilling on Cedar Hill on the east side of Central Park between 76th and 79th Streets

This is by way of saying that Central Park is the great convener, providing the common ground for the two storied sides of the island to mull about together.


Cedar Hill

In the springtime, Central Park is particularly colorful, especially during the warmer days of May. The pastels of April give way to bright oranges, reds, blues, and purples. Tulips are everywhere. The migration of colorful warblers and other elusive birds adds extra excitement for the many bird watchers who gather in the park. Near Belvedere Castle and the Delacorte Theater, the Shakespeare Garden is bountifully populated with vibrant flowers and a legion of photographers attempting to capture the height of the garden's ephemeral moments. 


Turtle Pond

birdwatching at Turtle Pond


For an immersive May weekend experience in Central Park, I suggest a lateral walk from east to west, or west to east, entering the park somewhere around 79th. This self-guided walk begins on the east side in the Lenox Hill neighborhood and takes in a little of the ambience of the Upper Side Side, including glimpses of Park Avenue's flowering medians, Madison Avenue's posh shops, and cultural institutions and businesses along E. 79th St. The walk ends on the west side in the vicinity of the American Museum of Natural History and the New-York Historical Society, two worthy destinations with proximity to a variety of restaurants, shops, and markets on Columbus Avenue. 

Belvedere Castle. Climb the stairs for sweeping views of Turtle Pond, the Great Lawn, and the Delacorte Theatre.

Shakespeare Garden

The walk in Central Park itself includes the spectacle of springtime crowds gathered in the wide open spaces of Cedar Hill and Turtle Pond. What you're witnessing is the annual spring migration of New Yorkers flying their coops and heading to a favorite meeting spot and playground.    

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre


Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Sunday, May 3, 2015.  

End of the walk. Resting under flowering trees on the south side of the American Museum of Natural History, W. 77th Street

See previous post, A Walk by Design: The Cooper Hewitt and a Stroll in Central Park, for a similar east-to-west walk along the Reservoir about ten blocks north of here.

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