Friday, February 11, 2005

Received the following very gracious response to my Christo letter...

2/11/05 -- Received the following very gracious response to my Christo letter, from one of the party-givers. This is the sort of opportunity for real dialogue I welcome.

I'm going to share your comments with everyone at my party and at a party I'm attending. And I've sent it to our environmental book group, with whom you met at the Harvard club (Wendy Paulson, etc. ).

The Gates are worth watching and evaluating after the fact. Until then.....

A preliminary sketch of the Christo Gates project. On Saturday it will be a reality.
2/10/05 -- I've been receiving various invitations from people, some of them friends, who live on Fifth Avenue and on Central Park West, to come to parties offering a view of Christo's The Gates. Here is the letter I am sending them. [I hope they remain friends!]

Dear XYZ

Sorry to have to decline your kind invitation. Though the Gates is an event that has captured many people's imagination, the Central Park nature and birdwatching community is pretty solidly unhappy about it.
I know the project is ephemeral, and it may certainly be a work of art, but in my estimation the Gates don't belong in Central Park.

Let me give you my reasons. First, it violates Vaux and Olmsted's powerful mandate, that the park be a peaceful refuge for city-dwellers, a place where people who don't have lovely country homes may go at any time to enjoy the beauties of nature. However aesthetically pleasing the Gates may prove to be, the project is certainly not a part of V & O's concept of rus in urbe.

My second reservation about this project has to do with its commercial aspects. What the Christos end up doing with the large sums of money the Gates is generating and will generate [including T-shirt stands throughout the park] is their choice. It is still a commercial venture, not a public project with public oversight, and as such should not take over and dominate a public park. The Gates has taken over Central Park for almost a month now, and will be doing so for quite some time after the orange flags are down.

There is a third reason that I mention diffidently, since there's no way of proving its validity. Central Park is a haven for many wild creatures, not only our celebrated red-tailed hawks. There are many other resident and migrant birds [Woodcock migration begins at the beginning of February], as well as the various mammals, amphibians, and invertebrates that find respite in the park. I don't know what effect this spectacular introduction of metal gates with orange flags will have on these creatures, but even though the Christos have not installed the gates in the two major woodland areas, I can't help thinking the project will have some impact on wildlife. It doesn't seem likely that the impact will be a favorable one. For example, the three pairs of resident Central Park hawks hunt mainly around the park's meadows, not in the woodlands. Will a sea of orange flags surrounding their habitual hunting areas make it easier to spot small rodents on the ground? I wouldn't think so.

Warm regards,

PS I'm sending this same letter to several people on the park's periphery who have invited me to view the Gates from their windows.


Now you can see why the building at 73rd and 5th is called the LION BUILDING. [You can only see the lion heads with binoculars. Of course Lincoln's super-scope makes it crystal clear.]


Thursday, Feb 10, 2005 (2:00 to 4:00pm, then 4:30 to 5:00pm): Both Pale Male and Lola visiting the nest and nearby buildings before I arrived, but light hawk activity from 2:30 to 4:00pm. However, when I returned from the Boathouse at 4:30 saw an exhilerating aerial courtship ballet...soaring and circling around each other which lasted several minutes...then they flew to the nest and stayed there for about 10 minutes. They were very active in the nest. They may have copulated at the nest but unfortunately cannot confirm since I could not get a good enough view. PaleMale then flew to Linda and Lola to a tree on near the 72nd Street Transverse.
By the way a "gate" was put up exactly where Lincoln puts his wonderful mega-Meade telescope. Estella spoke with the Gates assemblers and asked them to remove or relocate the gate. They come back and took down the offending Gate and carted it away. Way to go Estella!