Discover New York City – through the eyes of great poets – and Anna. She visited the city that never sleeps with Thomas Austenfeld, Professor of American Literature, and 26 other students of his class. Poems like «The Subway Platform» by Sheck, Lorde’s «A Trip on the Staten Island Ferry» and «Mannahatta» by Whitman guided the class through their big city adventure. Read more about the unique experience of Student Anna Vestermark Caccia, who tells us about 9/11, Central Park and a lot more in her four essays.
Central Park is probably the most famous park in the world. I knew it would be big. Very big. I had even been told that you could walk around the park all day without ever getting out. However, I wasn’t prepared for asphalted streets and traffic lights for pedestrians and cyclists!
An oasis of calm
I tried to look like a real New Yorker, but miserably failed after two minutes. That is, when I saw a squirrel. I guess everyone is used to them running around. Well, everyone soon found out I was not. In fact, I was running after them trying to take pictures and squealing with delight. Very discrete. Although Central Park is surely a touristic spot, it is mainly frequented by locals (or possibly tourists who fit in better than me and are better at hiding their fascination). It is very easy to understand why New Yorkers love it: it is a vast and majestic park that almost makes you forget about the chaos of the surrounding streets. Walking around the park is a pleasant – and needed! – break from the hustle and bustle of the enormous city you almost can’t believe is so close to you. Even the sound of the distant police sirens seems comforting and calming in this peaceful space, and it is a friendly and gentle reminder of the fact that you are still in the city and shouldn’t relax too much. Time flies while in the park, and you just know you will eventually have to go back to reality. Simply, Central Park is a wonderful oasis of calm in the middle of a chaotic and crazy city, a unique place to relax soul and mind. People do so in the most various ways: enjoying a picnic with family and friends, playing baseball or soccer, reading, sleeping, walking their dog, running or cycling.
Central Park is known as «the green lung of New York», and I think this term has two meanings. A green lung is an area of parkland within a city, supposed to replenish the air with oxygen. There is more than the literal meaning, though. Central Park is one of the few (or maybe even the only) places in New York where you can breathe. Breathe, and stop to think. Your mind starts wandering. Time flies in Central Park, and you wish it didn’t. The cars and crowds seem so far away, and you just focus on yourself and your wellbeing. Hundreds of people, of any age, run. Some listen to music, some listen to the park. Some want to establish their personal time record, some simply run to relieve stress. When running, you are only competing against yourself. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone but yourself. Running isn’t about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than who you used to be, it’s about pushing your limits to see how far you can get. Central Park motivates you to be healthy and to be the best version of yourself and I know that if I lived in New York (maybe in a couple of years, who knows where life will take me!), I would be one of those runners. And if I, a rather lazy girl that would only run to go get a hamburger or a pizza, say that, then that means Central Park really is a special place.
- Photos: Domitilla Cerclé