If you live in New York City and have the means and resources, you are probably experiencing the summer months at the seashore or mountains, far from the insulating properties of pavement and the incubatory effect of a subway platform. Those New Yorkers who can or must withstand the heat, however, are not without certain benefits that elude us during the milder months: the stores are empty, the streets are empty and the sidewalks are positively navigable.
And yet there is one place which is not empty. Paradoxically, the more crowded it becomes, the more enjoyable it is. It is located amongst some of the most prime real estate and posh locales in Manhattan and yet admission is free to all. This geographical entity is not unlimited and yet the number and variety of activities it supports is seemingly boundless: little league, soccer, kite flying, art, drama and romance all thrive.
Malcolm Pinckney / New York City Parks Photo ArchiveIt is Central Park.
Herds of joggers, runners and cyclists circle fields filled with sunbathers and softball games improbably intermingling on the same grassy turf. Marriage proposals abound under leafy arbors and children and pets are allowed to flex their capacity for running, jumping, falling and rolling in the dirt. Artists paint, poets recite and roller disco dancers hustle and flow. The pressures of urban coexistence are momentarily alleviated in Central Park as thousands of people share the grounds and the pleasure of being uncontained.
© Tod Papageorge
The spirit of recreation that Central Park exudes has not escaped independent filmmakers. Frederick Wiseman captures the full spectrum of activity in his documentary feature Central Park. And who better to depict young love than a young filmmaker? (Three in the Park). The Cycle follows the progress of a stolen bicycle as it winds it’s way through park-goers and, ultimately, back to its starting place.
From the film Central Park © Frederick WisemanMini-Marathon documents in the park one of the first distance competitions for female runners and Kiss Me Petruchio interviews Raul Julia and Meryl Streep during their 1979 performance of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew at the Delacorte Theater located in the heart of the park.
If you would like to screen these or other films in the collection or to make a request for a consultation appointment with a staff member, please call the Reserve Film and Video Collection at (212) 870-1741. All films must be requested at least one week in advance.