Concrete Jungle, Secret Gardens

Because my English “backyard” looks like this-


New York City can feel too concrete a jungle.


Thankfully, Manhattan is a small island surrounded by water, so I don’t feel hemmed in.  There are also city parks and secret/not-so-secret gardens filled with art and trickling water, offering reprieve.  My all-time favourite oasis is the Sculpture Garden at the MOMA.


It’s my first stop once admission has been paid for.  Something about the city reflected on the museum’s glass facade, the collection of sculpture, and the towering blocks that peer into the garden, seem to be in complete harmony, lulling me.


  •  MOMA West 53rd Street

Just a few blocks west of our hotel, there is the ingenious High Line, which I wanted to share with Dr Chan.


A former freight line now re-purposed as a public park, the High Line offers an alternative experience of the city as an urban jungle.  As I felt on my visit last fall, imagination is sparked; the buildings become trees,  and architecture, a living organism in constant communication.


This Spring, we were also gifted with sakura in bloom.


Rest stops designed into the landscape allow for reflection.


And as the lines between nature and man-made blur, so too the relationship between audience and performer, and the parameters of a stage, re-established.


  •  The High Line (reincarnation of the West Side Line)

Walking south on the High Line, we finally arrived in the West Village.  French Roast, a 24-hour neighbourhood joint is still in operation, and the sentimental Dr Chan requested nostalgia for lunch.


  •  French Roast Downtown, 78 West 11th Street

Across the East River in Long Island City, Queens, is a gem of a garden planted unobtrusively in a rougher part of town.


Brave these streets, and one is rewarded with the sort of magical garden born of startling simplicity, sculpture and serenity.



It was such an inspiring morning of meditative, provocative art, spent at the Noguchi Museum.


I learnt a little bit more about Isamu Noguchi.


I was very encouraged by his life story- his complicated childhood, that for so long success was elusive, his identity as both American and Japanese, and always, the urgent need to make, to work.


Light spilling through windows prompted prayer.


Dear God, please help me make the wiser decision…


Dear God, please show me the way.


  •  The Noguchi Museum, 3338 10th Street, Long Island City, Queens

One night, Dr Chan suggested Shake Shack for dinner.


The evening was still young, the crowds not fully descended.  We got lucky with not having to wait too long in line, and with a table.


Shake Shack is at Madison Square Park, right by the Flatiron Building, with a dog-run and often times, installation art on its grounds.


With views of the Empire State Building, adequate seating and protected trees, it’s conveniently located if you need a quick re-fuelling in between the sights.


  •  Shake Shack, Madison Square Park
  • Madison Square Park, between 5th and Madison Avenues, 23rd and 26th Street





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