Riverside Park - first day of spring, Mar 20, 2011
What a difference a year makes: on the first day of spring in 2010, I noted (in this Flickr set) that "all 8 million New Yorkers were ready to take advantage of [spring]. The sun was out, the temperature was in the 70s, the sky was blue, and the clouds had disappeared to some other part of the country. There was no way a sane person could stay indoors..."

This year, spring arrived about 6 hours earlier (1:32 PM, as compared to last year's 7:21 PM), and while the sun was out, the temperature was in the low 40s rather than the 70s. Like last year, I decided to celebrate the arrival of spring by walking in Riverside Park, and began my usual stroll at the entrance on 72nd Street. I walked a couple blocks south, to the newly-constructed pier that juts halfway out into the Hudson River (or so it seems, anyway), and saw that the outdoor cafe at the base of the pier, where one can usually find a tasty hamburger and a cold beer, was still completely shut down. So I began walking north -- eventually past the 79th Street boat basin, where the Boat Basin Cafe (which you can see more about in this Flickr set ) was open, though protected by gas heaters and wind baffles.

Like last year, there was bright sunshine, blue skies, and no wind -- so people were indeed outside. But because the temperature was about 30 degrees colder, there weren't any picnics and there wasn't any sunbathing. Instead of finding people sprawled out on park benches, enjoying the Sunday newspaper in the sunshine, about the only activities I noticed were bicycling, jogging, brisk walking, and skating.

I was frustrated by the lack of the usual springtime "photo-ops," but then remembered the old adage: if life hands you lemons, then make lemonade. Since there was a steady stream of joggers, cyclists, and skaters, I decided that I might as well photograph them. So I situated myself on a bench near a spot where the walkway along the river splits in two directions: you can turn east and pass under the West Side Highway, up some stone steps and into a playground and elevated section of the park at 82nd Street; or you can continue straight along the river, and follow a newly-constructed narrow two-bike-lane path that connects the "lower" section of Riverside Park (i.e., below 82nd Street) with the "upper" section (starting at roughly 94th Street).

People were coming and going in all directions, so I situated myself with the sun behind me, facing north towards the George Washington Bridge in the far background, and basically ignored everyone coming up the walkway from behind me. There were plenty of people heading south, with the bright springtime sun shining directly on them, and I sat there for about an hour, until I had collected some 500 images with my new Sony SLT a55 camera ...

At that point, I decided I had gotten enough, so I strolled over to Broadway, and took a bus uptown to my own neighborhood. Only a few of the images that I uploaded to my computer were complete disasters -- e.g., out of focus, or missing a head, arm or leg because the subjects were moving so quickly past me. But I had to reject quite a few because they were a little too ordinary ... i.e., your reaction would have been something like, "Oh. There's a guy on a bike. Just like the last guy on a bike, and the one before that." So I ended up with about 70 "keepers" that I felt were sufficiently interesting to warrant uploading to Flickr.

And so that's it for Riverside Park in March, at least this year. Indeed, I may well wait until May before returning -- by which time I hope it will be warm enough that I'll see the sights and scenes that I more commonly associate with springtime in New York City.
8 photos · 1,283 views