It was dumb luck that I ended up living 1/2 block from Central Park. Back in the late sixties when I was looking for an apartment, the park was much too dangerous to roam around in, so its proximity didn’t enter into my decision to rent a studio on West 83rd Street. What won me over was that the studio was cheap at $100 a month, and I was a graduate student on a very skimpy budget. (I have since moved to a larger apartment on the seventh floor, but that’s another story.)
For the first ten years or so, the words “THE SHARKS” were spray-painted in large black letters on my building, a reminder that my neighborhood was indeed only about 15 blocks north of the presumed scene of West Side Story.
It took about a decade for me to set foot in the Park. In fact, I always took the bus across to Fifth Avenue–even though it was a mere 10-minute walk.
Now I’m in the Park almost every day.
Even after all these years, I take joy in having it as my backyard and feel very lucky about my dumb luck. Here are some reasons why.