Posts filed under Life in New York

NYC Parks and Planning

Walking through all these Parks

Ever since we moved here we have been frequent visitor to Morningside Park. We never actually spend time in the park though, it’s just a place we pass through while walking from the east side to the west side of Manhattan. It takes 30 minutes on a good day to do the trek from our apartment to Columbia University. And we get to pass through Marcus Garvey Park and the Mount Morris Park Historic District on the way too. There are no tall buildings like the ones you see downtown here. Well, there are a couple of tall houses but no real abundance of them. I usually go through the northern part of Morningside Park, but in the southern end there is even a beautiful waterfall! Maybe I’ll try to go by there this week.

Morningside Park Late April:

As I have mentioned earlier, I love stats, charts, documentation etc, and NYC has created this awesome 3D map of all the buildings in Manhattan, and you can color them by height. If you take a look at East Harlem you can see that the majority of buildings are 10-25 m and in central Harlem they get a bit taller but still below 50m (depending on the speed of your internet and power of your computer the 3D map might take a while to load). Of course there are a few taller ones, but its pretty eyeopening to see on a map like this.

Marcus Garvey Park mid to late April:

If you are interested in the demographics of the greater NYC area you can take a look at this map pdf from NYC department of city planning, which also has all the different neighborhoods listed. What you might notice too, is how the topography changes as you move throughout the city. Walking from the east side to the westside through Morningside park you will walk up three sets of long stairs. If you look at the pdf map I just mentioned, you can clearly see that the west side lays at a higher elevation compared to the east side. You can also se the specific demographics for all the different larger neighborhoods by going to NYC planning. NYC planning also have some more detailed demographic facts about all the different neighborhoods if you are into that. In some way NYC is a large model city, there are ton of studies about anything in the city and Manhattan. Air pollution, water quality, green roofs, sustainability and the list goes on.

Mount Morris Park Historic District:

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about all the great maps and info you can get from NYC Parks and Central Park Conservancy. If you are interested in seeing what tree species you pass during your walk you can take a look at NYC Parks list of all trees in NYC, its quite incredible if you think about it. They have mapped every single tree in the city, of course there might be some lag if a tree dies or so. There you can also report if a tree needs attention by NYC Parks. You will be able to also click on a tree and see what species it is. It has a count for all the trees in the different neighborhoods and also how much CO2 the city is offsetting by having all of those trees! The map is also color coded if you zoom out, based on the number of trees, where darker green corresponds to a high number of trees, and lighter green to low. Does anyone know of similar maps in other cities?

Morningside Park Late April:

A Spring that Lasts Forever

IMG_2072-April 03, 2019.jpg

When I lived in Alaska springtime was so short that you missed it if you blinked, I wrote about that last week. In Madison I don’t remember spring being that spectacular, other than the Magnolia outside my work blooming. And maybe that was one of the reasons but I also think spring came very late to Madison and Wisconsin last year.

April 28th 2018, Wyalusing State Park, Wisconsin:

When we first got here to NYC I was actually quite surprised by all the trees and green space almost everywhere on Manhattan (I mean, not including Central Park of course). Madison also has a huge amount of green space, even more than NYC, and in Alaska you basically lived in the forest so. NYC Parks also has this collaboration with the community called Green Thumb as I mentioned earlier, and the community gardens are always so pretty. There are quite a lot of them around Harlem. We also have quite a few large parks nearby. Randall Island is an island in the East River, then we have Marcus Garvey Park and Morningside Park here in Harlem and around Columbia.

March 26th 2019, Morningside Park:

April 1st 2019, Washington Square Park:

April 3rd 2019, Central Park:

We went to Colorado last weekend and the cherries on the west side of Onassis reservoir had just started to bloom. Once I got back I was unsure how much would still be blooming, and to my surprise it still was. Yesterday we walked by the cherry trees on the west side of the reservoir again and those trees are on their way out. But there are a ton of other cherry trees (I think they are) still waiting to bloom, and on the east side of the reservoir there are trees blooming too.

April 3rd 2019, Central Park:

Another thing I am quite surprised about are all the apps and scripts and just about anything that has been created for users who are interested in NYC and everything you could possibly think of. For instance I found this guide from the Central Park Conservancy which guides you through all the spring blooming of Central Park. According to the guide there are Yoshino Cherry trees on the east side, and Kwanzan trees on the west side of the reservoir. The west side cherries are more pink, if those are what I have been seeing, while the Yoshino are more white (at least if you stand on the west side looking across the reservoir and the east side cherry trees). You can also visit the bloom guide for the most popular flowers on their website, and you can also head to NYC parks where they list what trees and flowers have started to bloom.

Around Columbia Cherry trees and Magnolias are in full bloom or at least reaching full bloom. I am used to Magnolia having a full bloom for a few days before it starts to taper off. But that all also depends on temperature and rain of course.

Springtime and the case of Phenological Mismatch

March 30th, 2019. Central Park

March 30th, 2019. Central Park

Signs of Spring

Budburst and Leafout

When I lived in Alaska the timing of spring was maybe more apparent compared to what it is here, in New York City. Fairbanks usually has a snow cover that lasts from October to April, sometimes even May. There are two main factors that drive the budburst and leafout in plants, temperature and light. In Fairbanks you get the right amount of light pretty early, so most of the time the plants are just waiting for the temperature to rise. Once the warmer weather comes along and the plants accumulate enough warmth you will see bud burst and leafout. Leafout is so apparent around Fairbanks that you can see a change in the color of the deciduous trees between morning and afternoon. You can leave town for a week during end of winter and come back to summer. I have posted the video below before, and it shows how fast spring comes and evolve in Fairbanks.

May 26th, 2013 Alaska:

April 26th, 2014 Alaska:

May 3rd, 2014. Alaska:

April 25th, 2015. Alaska:

2017 we went back to Alaska and skied in Denali on April 1st, it was an extraordinary warm spring there then, something that keeps repeating itself again, and again, and yet again.

April 1st, 2017. Alaska:

Currently Alaska is experienced the highest increase in temperature world wide, and it is projected to increase into the future as well. In a state where light usually is not a problem, a shift in temperature in the early spring can be devastating for certain species. Scientists often talk about the phenological mismatch. Phenological mismatch is about life cycles of certain species that generally overlap, all of a sudden don’t overlap any longer. What this mean is that certain species are dependent on other species, let it be insects that are crucial for certain bird species once they arrive or native bird species that depend on the insects for their hatchlings. Or insects that hatch on time to get their life-cycle timed with the flowering of plants. If one or the other is delayed or sped up, and synchrony is disrupted, it can be detrimental for certain species. We know that changes in the lower level of the ecosystem chain, can have huge effect on the upper level. Just last week Alaska broke the record of the earliest warmest day when it hit 70 degree F.

Flowering Magnolia in Madison 2018:

This past weekend we walked through Central Park and got a first look at spring here. The Magnolia is already blooming, in Madison that didn’t happen until mid-April and in Alaska snow is usually still on the ground right now as I mentioned earlier. But, then again, it’s all a matter or temperature once the sunlight is sufficient. This was also one of the first times I really felt like a New Yorker. The feeling that I am not just here for the weekend, the week, this month or the next 6 months. I never know how to identify myself after I move to a new city, especially now when I have been in the US for so long. If people ask me where I am from, should I say Madison, Fairbanks, New York or Stockholm. Who am I really, and why do we always identify ourselves with the origin of our lives? I guess in one sense we are all shaped by our origins, but at one point we will have lived longer somewhere else other than our birth place, and who are we then? There is a quote that I really like, from a Salomon running movie about Anna Frost, about home that really identifies how I feel about Home. I don’t know where the quote originated from, or if it’s a mix of several quotes put together.

Maybe your country is only a place you make up in your mind, something you dream about and think about. Maybe it’s not a place on the map at all, but just a story full of people you meet and places you visited. Maybe Home is just a collection of memories and our roots, based on nostalgia

Central Park March 30th, 2019:

What are the signs of spring where you are, and did spring come early?