Sunday, December 2, 2007

Orchard Beach

The "Riviera of New York". That's what Robert Moses called Orchard Beach when he created the crescent shaped beach. That's right...he actually built a beach where one didn't exist before. In his forever large scale urban planning behemoths, Moses wanted to build a beach on the beautiful waterfront along the Long Island Sound in the north Bronx and found new groundbreaking ways to create urban landscapes.

For this one, he imported 1.2 million cubic yards of sand that he dredged from Sandy Hook in New Jersey and Rockaway in Queens. He dumped it in the water around Rodman's Neck (now used as a police firing range). In doing this he connected mainland bronx with Hunter's Island and Twin Island and in effect tripled the size of Pelham Bay Park. Quite a feat.

This was in 1935. 70 years later, it all looks like a natural landscape that is among the most Serene places in NYC. Serene at least in November as the temperatures start to dip close to freezing. On my walk through the northern part of the park, there is nobody else around. there is something a bit satisfying about walking around in NYC and not hearing cars and hoards of people bustling about.

As you can see in my previous post about City Island, there are dozens of varieties of birds in this area and the lands around the open picnic areas are very wild and used as wildlife sanctuaries. Outside of all the bids and a great number of black and grey squirrels, I saw one of the reported 5 white tailed deer in the park. I must of startled him as he was hiding in the brush near the trail I was on. He leaped out and ran away. He was absolutely magnificent. The other bit of fun nature i witnesses was watching a seagull scoop down, grab a clam or an oyster, fly up about 20 feet up and drop it on the rocks. It cracked open as planned and the giant well-fed bird had some breakfast.

The beach itself was very quiet. There is a boardwalk around the 1.2 mile long half circle beach. A few others were out there enjoying a brisk walk under the blue skies. During the summer, this beach is packed and the pavilions and food stands are all operating. So is the environmental center on the east end that was unfortunately closed yesterday. I bet it would be fun to take a boat out and circle around the beach and up to the Westchester side of the park. Maybe next warmer weather.

As a sidenote, i am noticing with much excitement that this is the perfect time of year to explore all these waterfront parks. The air is colder but the colors are fantastic and you get much of the time by yourself.

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