Tuesday, June 05, 2007

isle of m

The other evening I heard the distinct sound of an ocean liner blowing its horn, reminding me that I happen to live on an island. Much of life within this place is focused inward, on its wide avenues, or on Central Park. Like most American cities, waterfronts up until recently were places of work and function, not beauty or leisure.

We happen to live in Chelsea, originally the home of working class dock workers and related industries. At the beginning of the 19th Century, the Hudson River's high mark cut all the way into our block between 9th and 10th Avenues. The city and landowners filled in the river path, creating the block between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue, and what is now the West Side Highway.

In the 1870s, the city began condemning shorelinie for the creation of piers for shipping. In the early 20th Century, this area became the home of large passenger liners and included berths for the Cunard and White Star lines. By the 1940s, the large liners had up moved further north.

Today, the piers are mostly relics, many of them stripped back to their wooden stumps sticking out of the water, others made into parkland or the vast sport and recreation area called Chelsea Piers.

Franklin the dog and I walked over to the new trail/walkways/parkland along the river front, and strolled down to about Pier 43. There are two trails, the bike, blader and runner trail, and then the strolling trail. The city has recently created parkland along these trails, filled with roses and other perennials along with odd patches of lawn. But like most NYC grass, there is a sign indicating that the grass is "dog-free."

From the trail, one clearly sees New Jersey, and from a distance, I saw the Statue of Liberty.

We finally turned back in front of the three Richard Meier designed glass apartment towers, and walked back trough the West Village toward home.


Anonymous said...

Pictures? I'd love to see the areas you're seeing.

It actually really does sound wonderful, Don.


Janet said...

Hi there!

I just dropped by, out of curiosity, after seeing your blog linked on Zanthan Gardens. (I found her blog completely by accident when "Googling" for photos of a flowering plant I was looking for.)

I can identify with your move to NYC. I moved there from Houston, with my then year-old Westie, back in 1986. I was there until I was transferred back to Houston in 1993.

I valiantly gardened on my 32-floor balcony at East 44th/2nd Avenue. I managed to grow strawberries, hibiscus, tomatoes (only a few), and a HUGE ficus tree...and assorted flowers. My Westie would try to eat both the strawberries and the hibiscus (the curled-up blooms, pre-bloom) if I didn't watch him closely. I could understand the strawberries but was always fascinated with his love for hibiscus flowers. He died at 16-1/2, though, so obviously they didn't do him any particular harm!

Anyway, I'm an Okie/Illini/Texasn/Nu Yawker/Texan woman who has ended up in the wilds of north Oxfordshire with my English husband. Come by "Lord Celery" if you have a bit of time, and I'll come back here from time to time as well.

Good luck in "The City", and please give it a BIG SMILE for me, too. Much as I love my life now, I miss that place every single day.


Anonymous said...

are you going to be able to have anything like a garden?


Don said...

Janet -- Thanks for stopping by. Our Chelsea area is nice -- we live between 9th & 10th Ave. in the 20s. The buildings are small, and there are trees.

The best thing is the Hudson River and the new park that is being building along side it. I can access it easily from our neighborhood. I don't feel like I am totally surrounded by concrete there.

Shelley -- I will try and take some pictures. We just found our camera from the move back in March.

Bill -- I can garden in the private park across the street, and I think there are other gardens where I could volunteer. Since I am learning my new job and the city, it is hard to do much gardening right now. I miss it terribly and hope that I will have re-configured my life so that I can garden more in the fall.