Picnic at Gantry State Park
I’ve lived my whole life in New York City and often I’m still struck by how things have changed over the years. Perhaps its the reminder that I’m getting old. It’s definitely a strange feeling when at times you feel so young and then are
reminded as you’re walking down the same streets you walked as a child, with your own child, because your parents, creatures of habit, still live in the same house they’ve lived for the past 30 plus years. Gone are the mom and pop owned stores and kitschy craft stores that you always wondered how they ever made any money, now replaced with trendy bars, restaurants and cafes. Not a single familiar stomping ground is left untouched. My DH humors how areas once considered shady, you’d caution children never to wander alone, now are transformed into these sprawling, hip neighborhoods, even the industrious Long Island City.
Some of my DH’s family recently made the transition from their city-loving and city-dwelling lifestyle to what they considered suburban living, moving out of Manhattan into what I think is the new “Hoboken” of Queens, not really suburban living to me – but small steps for them! We recently visited their new abode and I was pleasantly surprised by how far its come. What I
appreciate the most is how they found a harmonious balance between the old and the new. Many of the formerly abandoned warehouses were now transformed into beautiful modern lofts and apartments taking full advantage of the gorgeous city views. Many of the complexes under took ambitious transformations of turning their lots into communities with pools, laundry, grocery and other comforts of living. Spread here and there, evoking feelings of old neighborhood charm, were quaint little restaurants and cafes… serving brick oven pizzas and grandma’s old fashioned apple pies.
A mere few steps from their home was the newly expanded Gantry State Park, a rare gem in not being a city park so close to NYC. Formerly a dock facility on one end, you can see the restored gantry cranes that use to load and unload rail cars from the Long Island Rail Road tracks to and from the city- I wonder if that’s where the name came from, Long Island City. On the other end, was the former Pepsi Bottling plant where the landmark-ed Pepsi sign still resides. The historically-rich grounds now house picnic tables, bright orange hammocks, Adirondack chairs sitting randomly on the pier amongst water filled with wild sea grass, a playground with water sprinklers perfect for those hot summer days, fishing pier, playing fields and a waterfront promenade with a view of the UN and NY Skyline. A perfect balance of “suburban” life mixed with city-dwelling for the expanding metro family.