It Happened Here! – The Great Lawn

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November 20, 1937.

On a chilly Saturday morning, dozens of New Yorkers gathered on the Great Lawn for a very special Thanksgiving treat from J.L. Harbinger, owner of Harbinger’s Sports Emporium, Manhattan’s largest sporting goods store.

Calling it “The Great Lawn Turkey Shoot” Harbinger promised all in attendance the opportunity to “celebrate Thanksgiving like our forefathers did by shooting a turkey with reasonably priced weapons provided by Harbinger’s Sports Emporium.”

Armed with long bows and small caliber rifles, participants lined up on the southern end of the Great Lawn as Harbinger’s assistant’s set loose a bunch of farm raised turkeys from a pen located in the center.  Harbinger fired a ceremonial shot from his pistol and declared the hunt to be on!

When the smoke finally cleared 15 minutes later, all of the turkeys had escaped unharmed. Several participants were  treated at the scene for minor gunshot and arrow wounds. The only fatality was Morton Finnay of Brooklyn New York who was felled by 13 gunshots and seven arrows by his wife Caroline, who swore until her dying day she thought her husband was an extra large turkey who often criticized her cooking and housekeeping skills.

It Happened Here! 

Happy Thanksgiving from Central Park: A Misguide!

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More Ghosts of Central Park

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Is Central Park haunted?

Veteran park workers and regular visitors have heard stories of strange apparitions and frightening spirits roaming the pathways of Central Park, but are they true?

Probably not. But you never know. Central Park is a strange and magic place..

Here are more spooky tales of unexplained events that have happened in Central Park:

1947 – While strolling past Sheep Meadow, West Side resident Hannah Chilton witnessed two glowing apparitions playing a game of croquet on the deserted croquet courts. Miss Chilton watched in stunned silence as they played but she eventually grew bored and left when the spirits got into a long and boring argument over the placement of a ghost ball that had been hit out of bounds.

1960 – While approaching Miner’s Gate in the early morning hours of November 11, pipe fitter Lou Cirillo saw what he believed to be a ghostly handsome cab cross Fifth Avenue and enter Central Park. The floating transparent cab picked up a group of tourists just inside the park and charged them an exorbitant amount of money for a ride around the reservoir.

1997 – During a Garth Brooks Summerstage performance on the Great Lawn, the ghost of Ludwig Van Beethoven appeared before a handful of concertgoers. Beethoven’s ghost listened to the first chorus of Brooks’ hit tune Friends In Low Places, then shook his head sadly and vanished.

2003 – Several tourists reported seeing a giant swirling interdimensional portal appear at the southwest corner of The Mall.  The portal uprooted several small trees and sucked a trash can and a bench into it’s maw when it was dispersed by a Park Ranger for not having a permit to appear at the park on that day.

2011 – Six year old Danny Smith claims a swing at the Heckscher Playground began moving all by itself. Turns out it was just the wind blowing the swing back and forth. Dumb kid.

Happy Halloween from Central Park: A Misguide!

Bethesda Terrace Arcade Time Portal

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Connecting the world famous Bethesda Fountain to the Mall is a magnificent subterranean passageway known as The Arcade, a true highlight of any visit to Bethesda Terrace. This beautiful walkway features an amazing ceiling featuring more than 15,000 tiles, beautiful archways painted to mimic centuries old marble, and the only functioning time portal in the borough of Manhattan!

How is it possible? Could it be the way the imported tiles were arranged when they were installed in 1869 by a practicing alchemist, or the configuration of the columns the original park workers lovingly dubbed “the cursed columns from an unholy world?”  Nobody knows for sure. But for many years random park visitors, while strolling through the arcade have found themselves transported to a very specific time in their past or future. Here are a few bizarre incidents recorded by park historians:

1886 – East side resident Franz Keller claims that while walking towards the Bethesda fountain, he had what he thought was a vision of New York City far into the future, where “buildings touched the sky, people travelled in metal, horseless wagons, and a man named Starbucks owned a shop on every street corner.”

1915 – While admiring the tile ceilings in the Arcade, Brian Cochran was transported back in time three years to his native Ireland the very minute his neighbor Colin O’Toole told him he had booked passage to the United States aboard the RMS Titanic. Instead of warning O’Toole not to board the doomed ocean liner, Cochran wished him good luck on his trip. Cochran was kind of a jerk.

1936 – Penniless hobo Stanley Fitzgerald found himself transported back to October 1929 – a week before the infamous Stock Market Crash.  With his knowledge of what was soon to happen, he was able to save his fortune from being lost. Fitzgerald returned to 1933 a millionaire but lost all of his money a year later producing the failed Broadway musical “Hitler On The Town!”

1965-1980 – During this 15 year period there are multiple reports in the park archives of people who swore they experienced time travel at Bethesda Arcade, but pretty much everyone in New York City was on drugs back then so these claims are unreliable.

2011 – Local fashion blogger Janette Feig was transported to her family home on Long Island in the 1980s where she encountered her 16 year old self who wore nothing but stonewashed jeans. Miss Feig never recovered from her experience.

It Happened Here! – The East Green

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April 3, 1954.

While walking through past the East Green on his way to a rehearsal of his upcoming show The Pajama Game, famed theater impresario Jerome Robbins was set upon by a young, well coiffed gang of toughs who performed an elaborately song and dance number before stealing the producer/director/choreographer’s briefcase and wallet.

Impressed by the gang’s crisp choreography and flawless vocals, Robbins began crafting a show based on the typical New York City street gang he encountered that day, and three years later the West Side Story premiered at the Winter Garden Theatre and became an instant Broadway classic.   

It happened here!

The Pond

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Just across the street from the world famous Plaza Hotel and the hustle and bustle of 59th street is a veritable oasis in the heart of Manhattan – The Pond.

This gorgeous body of water is home to the picturesque Gapstow Bridge and is the perfect spot for any harried New Yorker looking for  a quiet place to enjoy a quick lunch.

Here are some interesting facts and bits of trivia about The Pond:

Widely believed to be a naturally formed body of water, The Pond was actually constructed in England by talented pond artisans, then disassembled and shipped to America for reassembly in 1855. Due to a misprint on the shipping manifest, several thousand tons of rock wound up in a garden apartment in Brooklyn.

The Pond is home to the Hallut Nature Sanctuary, where many small animals live in a natural safe environment. Any small animals wishing to live in the sanctuary must submit an application (complete with references) with the Hallut Nature Sanctuary Homeowners association.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned the sale of large sized soft drinks in 2012 in an effort to get New York residents to live healthier, The Pond was drained of Mountain Dew and refilled with plain spring water.

The Pond is a very popular rest stop  for migrating ducks and other assorted waterfowl.

Except cranes.

Apparently The Pond isn’t up to their particular standards. Arrogant, long necked, little bastards.

In the wee hours of the morning on July 5 1874,  an inebriated President Ulysses S. Grant was found swimming in The Pond by his Secret Service detail. As he was pulled from the water, an enraged Grant cursed his bodyguards for interrupting his attempt to cross the English Channel.

One time at The Pond I saw this guy making out with his girl on a bench. I mean they were really going at it. Everyone there was like “dude, get a room,” but they didn’t care at all. Totally messed up.

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Spring

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As difficult as it is to pick the best time of the year to visit Central Park, it’s hard not to argue with anyone who picks Spring.

Spring is a beautiful time in Central Park; the snow and ice has melted, the waters of the Pond and Lake return to a crystal clear blue, and the trees and flowers literally explode in a gorgeous celebration of color!

How does Central Park manage to display all of this beauty year in and year out? Well it has a little something to do with the powers of Mother Nature, and a lot of help from the hard working men and women of the Central Park Foliage Brigade.

Every year while New Yorkers are huddled in their apartments hiding from the winter chill, the CPFB is hard at work in preparing for Spring. Day and night for months these skilled artists fold millions of tiny flowers (each slightly different from the other)  from discarded phone books and Chinese takeout menus. These flowers are then painted by hand in an amazing variety of colors, perfectly mimicking the dozens of species of flora all over the park. Each flower is then glued in place using the strongest industrial adhesives available, insuring each delicate bloom will be around well into summer!

Special lawn and leaf painters using tiny paint brushes apply a fresh coat of green paint to each blade of grass in the meadow and every leaf in The Ramble. Painting tiny blades of grass by hand is tiresome work, (many lawn and leaf artists lose their sight and are prone to madness)  but it’s well worth it when you lay out on a freshly painted lawn on a warm spring day.

And the melodic songing of the birds? You can thank the Central Park Foliage Brigade’s Avain Division for that! Each year the CPFBAD raises thousands of songbirds in a private hatchery and trains each one to chirp in a pitch that stimulates the right and left hemispheres of your brain, making you a happy and productive member of society who is finally good at math!

So be sure head to the park this Spring and check out all the beautiful flora and fauna on display courtesy of the CPFB! And feel free to leave a small cash donation at any Central Park information kiosk, because the fine work of the CPFB costs millions of dollars and is bankrupting New York City!

Seriously, they’re going to close schools and firehouses.

The Ravine

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Located alongside the Wildflower Meadow in the North region of Central Park,  The Ravine is one of the most serene places the park has to offer. With it’s flowing stream (known as The Loch), rugged stone steps, and winding paths, the Ravine is a perfect display of nature  at its most tranquil.

Voted “Most Tranquil place in New York City” by Tranquil Quarterly from 2003-11, the cascading waters of the Ravine is the perfect remedy for frazzled nerves.

Harried park visitors looking to relax, decompress, and have their weary spirits return to a state of relaxation not felt since childhood before the real world took a big dump in their Cheerios will have a serendipitous experience in this magical place.

And as a special bonus, beginning in April special Tranquility Counselors from the Central Park Wellness Coalition will be patrolling the Ravine to answer questions and point visitors to the areas along The Loch that have been deemed the “most mellow.”

In keeping with the overwhelmingly tranquil nature of The Ravine, visitors are advised to silence their smartphones, clear their Qi of any negative energy, and leave that friend who can’t shut up for five goddamn seconds at the ball fields.