Delights Behind The Woodhaven Gate

FOREST PARK, NYC The Woodhaven Express children's train rideI should have been grocery shopping but instead, detoured to the park on a beautiful, clear Sunday.

FOREST PARK, NYC CarouselForest Park, in the middle of New York’s largest borough, is  a 500-acre woodland with playgrounds, trails and horses.  At the Woodhaven Gate entrance (one of many for this huge park) the only horses were part of the beautiful carousel, the centerpiece of the tiny Amusement Village. This carousel is originally from Massachusetts and dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, replacing the previous one which was destroyed in a fire in 1966.  It’s a gentle ride, as are all the amusements in the village.

The games weren’t operational the day I visited but since there were only a couple of them, and nobody standing in my way, I was able to admire their retro-ness.

In back of the village is the Forest Park Greenhouse. The houses are not open to the public but I was impressed that, minutes from my home, these buildings provide all the foliage for parks in two entire counties.  According to an NYC Parks spokesperson, “Every year the greenhouse grows around 200,000 herbaceous plants (annuals and perennials) from seeds, plugs, liners, bare-root plants, and cuttings. Gardeners use these plants beautify the parks, playgrounds, beaches, and pools throughout Queens and Brooklyn.”

FOREST PARK, NYC George Seuffert BandshellClose to the carousel is the  George Suffert Bandshell, which I discovered by accident years ago. During the warmer weather it hosts free concerts but on the day I visited, skateboarders enjoyed the smooth paths as their friend photographed them.

Across the road from the bandshell is the entrance to the PFC Laurence Strack Memorial  Pond, a kettle pond formed some 20,000 years ago by a receding glacier. (I mentioned another local kettle pond here: )

FOREST PARK, NYC Undulationg path to Laurence Strack Memorial PondAn undulating, paved path led down to the pond. The dirt path surrounding the pond was muddy from recent rain but that just added to the sense of “we are not in New York City.” It was quiet, maybe because of the slight descent. Few people were there, just a family with their dog and some guy fishing on the other side. There were no discarded booze and soda bottles, pretty much no trash at all. Then again, as I’ve said before, New York City does value its parks.

It’s amazing that although I grew up mostly in Queens, I rarely ventured west to where I am now. Sometimes it’s still an adventure.

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