Thursday, February 24, 2005


[From the caretaker of the "Swarovski Scope", donated by that company to the Central Park Hawkwatchers during the recent Hawk Nest Crisis.]

Wednesday , Feb 23 - As young and old visiters enjoyed looking through the
scope at the new nest today, a RedTailed Hawk suddenly appeared diving
straight toward us with it wings pulled in against its body - as the RedTail got
about 20 ft away, a white bird came from behind us at maybe 10 ft over our heads -
the RTH and the other bird almost collided 14 ft over the Model Boat Pond.

The large white bird veered sharply to the right as the RedTail, spread for
an impact, feet forward, wings and tail very wide, recovered composure and flew
back out of sight. The white bird was a Gull and the RedTail's dive did not
look like a hunt but rather a defensive maneuver. We were all, stunned, happy
and confounded.

Right after that both PaleMale and Lola were visible for a good while in
today's very clear blue sky when a third raptor flew up Fifth Avenue, passing in
front of the nest building. This intruder was about the size of a Crow, had
sharply tappered wings, a tight narrow tail and rapid wing beats - it was a Peregrine
Falcon! Within seconds it was surrounded - Lola high above to the right
and PaleMale diving at it from the left - with each pass the RedTails preserved
their own energy and made no direct contact but stayed on opposite sides of
the Peregrine, flying at it, forcing it to evade them and eventually fly south
again from where it came.

__ Kentaurian __

[But only for a few days more]

I received the following letter from my friend Josie in Cos Cob, CT. Since I started out almost entirely opposed to The Gates, I am bound to say that I have come around to agreeing with Josie's argument almost completely. The "people" aspect of the Gates has won me over. Just as the letter says, the project has brought great numbers of people into the park, many of whom had never been there before. My own observation of the great crowds proceeding at a tranquil pace under the Gates is that they are enjoying greatly the experience of being together and in the park, and a part of some sort of "happening" Those of us who have been "parkies" for a long time don't need something like the Gates to make us happy. We fell in love with the park and its wildlife long ago. But if it takes thousands of orange shower curtains to make this experience accessible to many others, I say , as my old friend Charles Kennedy always used to exclaim: Halleluja.

Beineke's article makes some good points. The Conservancy does, indeed, deserve a great deal of credit for its magnificent restoration of the park. And. as an example of persistence and perseverence, the Christos do set an example. I personally believe that persistence and perseverence are much more important, in any artistic endeavor, than talent.

This is not to say that I find The Gates to be a successful artistic endeavor. I find the orange color unattractive [especially in Central Park in the winter] and the texture of the fabric repellent. All that talk about the shimmering , billowing beauty of the saffron etc. makes me mildly ill. But each to his own...

In any event, the beginning of the end of the Gates is approaching. Sunday, February 27th is the official closing of the "exhibit" . [And, I might mention, that date will also mark the end of any discussion of this project on this website.]

Unfortunately, February 27th will not be the day that Central Park will be free of the Gates. I understand that the Gates will not be completely dismantled until March 15th.

Here is Josie's letter and Beinecke's article:

Hi Marie,
I thought I would add this piece below to the ecological Gates debate. I personally have found that the over arching spirit that has gone into creating this happening has been so great: People have been discovering for the first time what a park can mean to their lives -with friends and family and visitors and have been taking the time to stroll and drink in the remarkable array of landscapes, albeit many artificially created ones, but woodlands and mature trees and no straight lines, and grand panoramic meadows and lawns and all in the middle of winter and a near full moon sparkling over the whole. Well I just think we are very lucky to have had the chance to drink this all in together and meet and greet our visitors.

Faith, Hope and the Environmental Way | Main | Bringing the US into the 21st Century »
February 15, 2005
Creation and Re-Creation

Frances Beinecke

The Gates

New York has come alive with the arrival of the Gates, Christo and Jeanne Claude’s incredible art installation that drapes all of Central Park. We spent much of Saturday and Sunday in the park, as my eldest daughter, a young artist, was on the installation crew. We stood on a rock outcropping at the northern end, watching my daughter’s team release the saffron colored fabric from the cocoons on their 100 gates. And then the park was encased with orange, billowing fabric along every pathway, stunning. It is a happening, no question about it. People from all over, smiling, chatting, enjoying the art, enjoying the park.

I was interested that Jeanne Claude and Christo first proposed this project in 1979, when the City and the Park were so different than they are now. The Park was in a serious state of disrepair and neglect. The grass was eroded, the ball fields were unplayable, the bridges and architectural features were a mess, and the Park was thought to be unsafe. While the Park went through a total rebirth over the past 25 years, Christo and Jeanne Claude persisted, redesigning and re-pitching the project to every Mayor until Mayor Bloomberg approved it. A tale of persistence and restoration combined.

Restoration is so fundamental to our future these days. We have so altered major ecosystems across the country and across the world through vast engineering projects that have made these ecosystems dysfunctional and unrecognizable. But the good news is that there are many, many efforts going on to plan restorations and get them funded. Some of these projects are vast in scale. The Everglades restoration project will give new direction to the Corps of engineers, which will be spending billions of dollars in an effort to restore the river of grass which they so successfully destroyed in their prior engineering endeavors. Across the country, NRDC has also been working for 10 years on restoring flows, and fish, to the San Joaquin, California’s second largest river.

Christo and Jeanne Claude understand scale. Who could imagine a project for the entire park? That’s what we all need to be, big thinkers: thinking the impossible and then having the persistence to see it through. Just walking through the Gates expands the mind on what’s possible.