Simon Bolivar

Keeping watch over Central Park South and Sixth Avenue from high atop his marble pedestal is the statue of Simon Bolivar, a famed military leader who led Venezuela and several other South American countries to independence in the 1800s.

Here are some other interesting facts about this famous revolutionary:

Born in 1783 to mother Dona María de la Concepción Palacios y Blanco and father Coronel Don Juan Vicente Bolívar y Ponte, Bolivar was baptized as Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios.  Relatives came from all over Venezuela to celebrate the birth and donate even more names to the boy.

An accomplished rider, Bolivar was always seen  sitting atop his faithful horse Rodrigo, So attached was Bolivar to his faithful steed, he rode him everywhere, even indoors.  Bolivar’s mansion in Venezuela was built with high ceilings and doors.  Sadly, Rodrigo passed away before the oversized bathtub was complete.

While a military academy student, Bolivar witnessed the coronation of Napoleon in Paris. He told a friend that he hoped one day to be as brilliant a military genius like “that little French kid.”

Liked capes.                                                              

Forever altered the future of culinary arts when he ordered his chef to dress up his boring flan desert by pouring caramel over it.

His brilliant military leadership helped free several countries, leading to the formation of the giant nation of Gran Colombia. After being named President, Bolivar fought hard to have the name of the new nation changed to Rodrigoland, but was flatly refused.

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The Pool

     Surrounded by lush weeping willow trees, the Pool is one of the most beautiful places in Central Park.

     The pool is a favorite watering hole of many species of birds and fish and is very popular with locals who enjoy having this tranquil oasis just a few steps from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan’s upper west side.

     One of the most famous locals to frequent the pool was Theodore Roosevelt, who in the late 1890s was president of the New York City Police Commissioners Board.

     Roosevelt made daily trips at the crack of dawn to the park to commune with nature and to engage in long and grueling workouts designed to test both his physical as well as mental strength.  

     Roosevelt began with a two hour swim in the sometimes frigid water of the pool, towing a rowboat with his teeth the entire time. The rowboat was usually loaded with three overweight men or a local suffragist group if the men weren’t available.

     The swim was followed up with three hours of nonstop calisthenics: squat thrusts, jumping jacks, pushups, etc. As an added challenge, Roosevelt performed these exercises with an irritated bobcat tethered to his left ankle.

     After that, Roosevelt would climb the tallest nearby tree carrying a 50lb sack of flour over each shoulder.  The flour was then used to make several dozen pancakes which Roosevelt consumed while his trainers whipped him with burning willow branches.

     Roosevelt ended his punishing daily workout with an hours long run around the pond while being chased by New York Police Department cadets firing their service revolvers at him.  Quite often park goers upon seeing this spectacle would join in on the chase; many later commented the spirited running around the pool made them feel refreshed and invigorated, despite the gunshot wounds.

     Theodore Roosevelt left New York and went on to become President of the United States of America. But thanks to his example, to this day thousands of New Yorkers take to Central Park every day to vigorously exercise to improve their well being, just like Teddy!

      Minus the gunfire of course. At least on weekdays.

Tree Benches

     One of the most fascinating natural wonders in Central park is the famous Tree Benches:  Living trees that have grown into the shapes of comfortable benches!

     Are they topiary? Arbor sculpture?  No one knows for sure. The park gardeners discovered these magnificent trees decades ago when they were just small chairs and have let them grow to the full size benches we have today.  

     The origin of these amazing trees is as mysterious as the trees themselves.  Members of the scientific community believe the trees are the result of a bizarre cross pollination experiment involving plant DNA and quality Shaker furniture. Environmentalists believe the trees are an abomination and proof that man is tampering with the powerful forces of nature itself. 

     Whether you believe it’s a freaky science experiment or a horrifying crime against mother earth, we urge you to seek out these fascinating tree benches and judge for yourself.  But please, refrain from carving your initials into these benches.  Save that crap for the subway.

The Impatient Grandfather

     Perched atop a tiny pedestal near the park entrance on west 90th street is the marvelous statue of one of Central Park’s most beloved characters, Flynn Lanny, also known as the impatient grandfather.  

     A train dispatcher in his native Ireland, Lanny was a stickler for punctuality, and expected no less from the world around him.

      Every Saturday at 11AM rain or shine, Flynn Lanny could be found waiting at Engineer’s Gate for his Grandchildren to arrive for an afternoon of precisely scheduled fun and activities. Unfortunately, Flynn’s daughter-in-law rarley brought the children on time, so Lanny was often seen pacing about checking his watch, joking with his friends about the unreliability of his son’s wife, or as he called her, “the Italian whore.”

     By the mid 1980s the elderly Lanny’s obsession with promptness had reached a fever pitch when in the spring of 1985 he was arrested for disturbing the peace when he loudly chastised a row of azaleas in Wagner Cove for flowering three days later than the surrounding plants.

     Flynn Lanny died in 1987. In a salute to his father, his son Sean Lanny commissioned a statue of his Dad to be placed near Engineer’s Gate.  In a salute to her father-in-law, Carmella Lanny made sure the dedication ceremony for the statue began 46 minutes behind schedule.