Monday, May 9, 2011

Early Monday Morning on the Grand Concourse: Breakfast at Franz Sigel Park

Early this morning, we got up to the Bronx lickety-split soon after 7 a.m. by taking the L and 4 trains (we got seats on both!) to 149th Street and walked up the Grand Concourse, passing such notable sights at Hostos Community College, the Bronx General Post Office and Cardinal Hayes High School to have our breakfast among the lush greenery of Franz Sigel Park, named for a 19th-century German immigrant who became a leading New York educator, journalist, soldier and public official.

In his wonderful novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe writes:
On the 158th Street side the courthouse overlooked Franz Sigel Park, which from a sixth-floor window was a beautiful swath of English-style landscaping, a romance of trees, bushes, grass, and rock outcroppings that stretched down the south side of the hill.
Of course, Wolfe then goes on to say that "nobody with half a brain in his head" would ever go into the park, but never mind.

The topography of the Bronx (and upper Manhattan) is so different from that of Brooklyn, Queens and the rest of Long Island that in our ninth-grade earth science class at Meyer Levin Junior High School in our East Flatbush terminal moraine, our teacher, Dr. Karl Bernstein, took us on a field trip to the Bronx to explore glacial striations and other rocky, hilly features from the last Ice Age.

So the Bronx is a lot hillier than we're used to in Brooklyn, and Franz Sigel Park has these wonderful paths that go up and down nestled between the Grand Concourse and Walton Avenue, which is part of a path used by local native peoples.

It was peaceful this morning and except for a few schoolkids with backpacks, dog walkers at the dog run, runners and a couple of old people like us sitting on benches, was almost deserted.

We enjoyed our iced tea and breakfast vittles and our visit to verdant Franz Sigel Park, a nice break from the real world or what passes for it.

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