Falling in Love All Over Again – Autumn in New York
Paris in the springtime may be the stuff of song and legend, but autumn in our fair city is a season of its own merit. Stop any New Yorker on the street, though, and ask them the best places to see autumn in all its gloriously colored splendor and you’re more likely to hear “New England” or “Upstate.” A few more environmentally aware might put forth Central Park as the ideal destination and they’d not be far from wrong. All five of the city’s boroughs, however, have something to offer the seeker of fall foliage, usually not too far from the subway line.
Manhattan – Central Park’s maples will soon be wearing their scarlet and crimson cloaks that make Little Red Riding Hood jealous. The oaks and chestnuts prefer a softer, more subdued golden brown palette, while the poplars are shameless in their golden gowns. While I can’t swear by it or find any proof, Central Park gives the impression that it was designed with autumn in mind. Another lovely Manhattan fall destination is the Cloisters and Inwood Hill Park, at the northern edge. Inwood Park features the only native forest left in New York City. Autumn in Inwood is next to heavenly. The sculpture court of the Metropolitan Museum of Art gives grand views of Central Park’s fall fashion parade from right next door, too.
Brooklyn – Brooklyn’s Park Slope, with its brownstones and tree lined streets, offers New Yorkers and visitors alike a less crowded, more peaceful trek through colorful arboreal arrays every autumn. Nearby Prospect Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park, is not to be outdone by its larger sibling. Its tree lined trails and varied vistas show off its fall grandeur to perfection.
The Bronx – The Old Putnam trail in the Bronx’s Van Cortland Park is the ideal spot for crunching leaves as you go. There’s some real forest here, too. The Northwest Forest may be the Bronx best kept secret when it comes to spectacular fall displays. Venture too far, and you’re not in the City anymore, but you’ll still be close to the subway, as promised.
Queens – Pristine Alley Pond Park in Queens is a fall lover’s paradise. The tree-lined paths and ponds, resplendent in beeches and oaks, are just waiting to show off all their gorgeous color to the casual stroller. You’ll need to catch the bus from the subway, but it’s not that far of a ride. Forest Park, with trees dating back to the time of the Civil War, is closer to the subway, and offers a forest of red and white oaks in all their beauty. There’s hiking trials, a bike trail and several bridle paths, so you can experience the colors of fall from your choice of transportation modes.
Staten Island – Staten Island is the least urban of all the boroughs, and as such is a natural for fall leaf viewing. The Greenbelt offers 28 miles of walking and hiking trails, through woods and wooded lanes. Todt Hill, with its 410 feet of altitude, offers views of still more wooded splendors, with well-situated mansions to add to the vista. Don’t forget the ferry! Crisp autumn air and brilliant blue October skies add another dimension to your trip.
Wherever you go in the city this fall, don’t forget to look around. The city’s planners – old and new – have provided us with many opportunities to celebrate in this most beautiful of seasons. From tree lined streets to forested parks, to the mums on your neighbors stoop, the city abounds with the colors of the season. Who needs Paris in the springtime? I’ll take autumn in New York!