Central Park Love Song: Wandering Beneath the Heaventrees

Central Park Love Song: Wandering Beneath the Heaventrees

by Stephen Wolf


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Central Park Love Song is both an intimate portrait and meticulous research of America’s first great public park and the most visited site in New York City. Beginning with the narrator and his dog wandering the battered but still beautiful park in the late 1970s, readers learn why the park is so large on an island so small, why it grows in the center of Manhattan, and what has been lost to the needs of an ever-changing city. These and other stories weave through the narrative as the reader and narrator discover every cave and cranny of the park’s 843 acres and later see the park in new ways with his children, much as he did with his dog three decades before.

In a creative blend of fact and imagination that includes excerpts from novels, poems, essays and songs about Central Park, we visit the park during its construction, the raucous zoo hoax of 1876, and stroll with “Miss Manhattan” –Audrey Munson, model for three statues in the park and a dozen more throughout the city. We’re at Jimmy Walker’s glamorous Casino and the bleak Hooverville nearby, slip through a fence on summer nights to swim in the reservoir—Lake Manhattan to those who love it—and experience the wondrous gift given the park and surrounding city by the legendary hawk Pale Male; finally, we watch the Central Park Conservancy’s miraculous revival of the park over the last twenty years. The book concludes at an imaginary lunch with the narrator, his young daughter, Frederick Law Olmsted and others at work on the map of “The Greensward Plan” that eventually became Central Park.

[Stephen Wolf’s] Central Park Love Song: Wandering Beneath the Heaventrees is an eloquent, evocative ode that encompasses New York history, past and contemporary protagonists, geography and botany so gracefully that reading his book is like, well, a walk in the park.

– SAM ROBERTS, The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780999315361
Publisher: Griffith Moon Publishing
Publication date: 06/01/2018
Pages: 260
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents


Part One

Chapter One: Passage Through the Wall 8

Chapter Two: A Walk in the Park 18

To Make an Eden: Retreating glaciers as high as the Empire... 26

Chapter Three: Garden of Sacred Gatherings 30

Chapter Four: City at the Edge of the Trees 38

To Make an Eden continued: New York is “more scantily... 48

Chapter Five: The Wild Garden 55

Part Two

Chapter Six: Garden of Champagne and Despair 78

Chapter Seven: Kindred Spirits 92

To Make an Eden continued: Designing the city’s new park... 101

Chapter Eight: Garden of Earthly Delights 105

Chapter Nine: If Not in the Park 120

To Make an Eden continued: Before the sublime imaginings by... 134

Chapter Ten: Garden of Darkness and Light 139

Chapter Eleven: Garden of Grandeur 155

To Make an Eden continued: At 4:30 on the morning of April... 165

Chapter Twelve: Blessings From Above 169

Part Three

Chapter Thirteen: Seeing the Park with New Eyes 181

Chapter Fourteen: Garden of Song and Saffron 200

To Make an Eden continued: The physical labor of creating... 210

Chapter Fifteen: The Magic of Osseo’s Log 213

Chapter Sixteen: Garden of Remembrance 225

To Make an Eden continued: When the city bought the land... 244

Chapter Seventeen: A Special Luncheon 250


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