Arches

It does us good to remind ourselves that Prospect Park is a synthesis of the natural and the unnatural. The park is a highly engineered production, with drainage tiles laid underneath the Long Meadow, and fire hydrants in the middle of the Midwood, and the old reservoir built into Lookout Hill.Yesterday, the delightful Christopher Gray, (on right with yellow folder), the New York Times Streetscape columnist, led a walk through the park’s wonderful arches: Endale, Meadowport, Neathermead, Cleft Ridge, and East Wood. His recent column bemoaning the state of the arches was the impetus for the gathering. The arches were designed to separate pedestrians from horse-borne, and now infernal combustion, traffic; they were designed to provide shelter from inclement weather (Meadowport still has its benches); and they were designed to be dramatic: beautiful wood, newfangled concrete, and, for Endale (originally Enterdale) and Meadowport, the stage-like views opening out onto the Long Meadow. (It would behoove you to look up Tony Hiss’s essay on this experience)
Invertebrate nerd that I am, I pointed out some organpipe mud dauber wasps in the Nethermead Arches and Celft Ridge Span: insect architects. For the park as a whole, is nature the architect we are piggybacking on, or does nature, like the wasps, piggyback on us?

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