Alley Pond Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, December 18, 2014

Parks: A New Lens

New York City: too fast, too crowded, too much. Although I grew up just 30 minutes outside of Manhattan, I never anticipated living or working in New York. I had daydreams about the San Francisco bay, about working for a national park. So when I got an email welcoming me to the Conservation Corps program this May, I was surprised, excited, and confused. I couldn’t say no – the Parks Department is a true cross section of all my favorite things. So I said yes and did what I always vowed not to do: I moved to New York.

What took place next can only be described as a complete 180 and a steadfast way to eat your words. Simply, our two week orientation showed me a version of New York I’d never seen before. From Soundview to the Greenbelt – I was constantly baffled by the natural beauty of the “concrete jungle.” Working for this agency has opened my eyes to the sheer vastness of New York City.

Through the Conservation Corps fellowship, my placement in Planning and Parklands, and some of my weekend expeditions, I’ve had the privilege of enjoying many of our parks. I’m on a mission to encourage every person I encounter to visit these parks. I hope you’ll take the time to explore some of these sites!

Here are some highlights:

BRONX Shoelace Park –The Bronx River was stunning. I bet plenty of New Yorkers go up the Hudson for similar experiences, not realizing we have such an incredible resource in our back yard. I especially enjoy showing this photo to people and having them guess where it took place. Guesses include, but aren’t limited to: Vermont, upstate NY, and New Hampshire. Little did they know this beauty is right in the Bronx – just a subway ride and hop skip away.

MANHATTAN Fort Tryon Park – The view of the Palisades, the Cloisters, the City’s largest public garden with unrestricted access – it’s hard to chose what element makes Fort Tryon most beautiful. Simply: this park is a dream. Come here to enjoy one of the highest points in Manhattan, to feel like pseudo royalty, or enjoy a re-enactment of the Battle of Fort Washington (which happens once a year every November – mark your calendars.)

STATEN ISLAND Freshkills Park – The planet’s largest landfill is being slowly transformed to a flagship park. It’s not a miracle, it’s Freshkills! Though the park isn’t open to the public quite yet, they host an annual event called “Sneak Peak” where the public can view the park and get to engage in activities such as kayaking, rock climbing and more.

BROOKLYN Prospect Park – Hardly a hidden gem, Olmsted’s brainchild feels endless in the best way. One of my favorite aspects of Prospect Park is what surrounds it: Grand Army Plaza, the Brooklyn Library, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. An intersection of so many great things, Prospect Park is sure to entertain all for a weekend afternoon.

QUEENS Alley Pond – Are you part of a team? Maybe you are all looking for a bonding experience, a way to test yourselves? Consider going to Alley Pond Adventure Course, which boasts a variety of activities that can build self confidence, communication, trust, and leadership. Featuring ropes courses, a climbing and bouldering wall, swings, a zip line, and more, there are courses for all ages and abilities. Additionally, Alley Pond Environmental Center is a great resource for environmental education - teaching canoeing, children’s weekend classes, as well as providing field biology internships.

-Submitted by Katerina Athanasiou, Conservation Corps Fellow at Planning and Parklands.


"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.?"

Kurt Vonnegut


Directions to Alley Pond Park

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