Arriving a little less than a week after the official opening of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Gates, we were determined to enjoy it as much as we possibly could. On the cold, cold morning of Friday, February 18, we took a taxi from our midtown hotel, asking the driver to carry us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art via Central Park’s roadways, so that we could have a quick preview of the installation. He argued a bit—he wouldn’t be a New York cabbie otherwise—but understanding that the City was already turned upside down by the influx of midwinter visitors, he agreed. I remember being stunned by the brilliance of the display, even if the sun was peeking only fitfully through the clouds that would dominate the sky most of the day thereafter.
Our plan was to fortify ourselves with a robust luncheon meal at the Museum’s restaurant, whose west-facing glass wall would give us an opportunity to study the Gates in a warm and leisurely manner before embarking on our pedestrian odyssey. Having done so, we rode an elevator to the Museum’s rooftop gardens for a bird’s-eye view. And then we set off, spending the next four hours slowly making our way the twenty blocks down to Central Park South. By the time we arrived, we were nearly frozen to the core and seriously wondering how we would manage the ten remaining blocks back to our hotel.
Luck was with us, and halfway there, we came across a wonderful (and now sadly defunct) bistro called Maison. The staff took pity on us, sat us next to a pot-bellied, wood-burning stove, and plied us with red meat and pommes frites until the circulation returned to our thoroughly chilled extremities.
On Saturday, we held off for a while, taking the opportunity to visit the newly opened Museum of Modern Art galleries before taking another, shorter ramble through the southern end of the Park.
Sunday dawned sunny and slightly warmer—the temperatures got above freezing that day—and we opted to enter the Park via the gate near West 72nd Street. We wound our way around the Lake, climbed Summit Rock, and crossed the Great Lawn. We turned right at the Met and rambled with the crowds down the eastern side of the Park, emerging once more somewhere around 72nd Street to hail a taxi back to the hotel, and happy in our travels, to the airport and home.
To conclude this series honoring the tenth anniversary of the installation of The Gates in New York City, I offer a selection of the photographs that I took during the days we spent there marveling at the beauty of the installation itself, the way that it highlighted the topography and ecology of the Park, and most of all, the transformative effect that it had on the crowds of people and the solitary flaneurs we encountered along the way. I have never seen New York quite so happy.