So it happened. I turned 50.
My wife gave me an absolutely wonderful gift, a weekend in Manhattan. After some lovely celebrations we took a walk on Sunday to the south-east end of Central Park, just across the street from The Plaza Hotel.
I think this section of Central Park is hugely underrated. As you walk down the steps from the street on Central Park East, you see one of the famed ponds and a trail that walks around the pond with benches. The Gapstow Bridge is there between the pond and the ice rink. My mother painted this bridge for me and the painting hangs in my home to this day as one of our prized pieces of art.
After you cross the bridge heading south, there is an entrance on the left to the Hallett Nature Sanctuary. This four acre section of the park was closed in 1934 by Robert Moses and declared a bird sanctuary. It became overrun with invasive plants and feral cats and in 2001 a project was started to restore the sanctuary. That restoration was completed with the sanctuary now open to the public since 2016. The trail around is soft moss and there are many beautiful native plants, playful squirrels seeking to shake you down for a snack, and friendly birds. The trees and greenery are enough to muffle the usual sounds of Manhattan that you can almost get lost and not realize you’re in NYC. I found a particularly friendly titmouse (a bird’s name I will act like a 12 year old boy every time I repeat it forever and nobody can stop me) who decided to land on my open hand! There was a gentleman on the other side of the trail sitting on the bench feeding the birds (and squirrels…yikes) by hand so while it’s fun to think I’m the bird whisperer, I think the birds in this part of the park have just become very friendly and trusting of humans feeding them.
Finally, there’s a fun little overlook spot in the northeast corner of the sanctuary with beautiful wood benches built around the trees.
If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, give this little spot a visit. You won’t be disappointed.