Yesterday, I had a rare afternoon free and so I packed up “The Power Broker,” and headed due north-west to the very upper edges of Manhattan. I wanted to see Inwood Park, a place I was sure I would love, but had never managed to explore (mostly due to my always becoming hopelessly entangled in the wilds of Fort Tryon Park). This time, however, my way was charmed: a bus-rider told me of the mystic spirits in Inwood, and I encountered one of my oldest New York friends at the entrance, who guided my way for a while.
The park seems wild, but incongruous: the trails are lined with cobblestones and with old-fashioned gas lamps now filled with vines. After I reached the river, I stood under the Henry Hudson Bridge, which is pure geometry, and felt the vibrations of the cars passing overhead.
The park is arranged around a deep crevasse formed by the slow movement of the Wisconsin ice sheet, an ancient glacier responsible for New York’s topography. And so, in my hurry to find the summit, I exhausted myself reaching the antiquated overlook (overgrown and defined by a slanting wrought-iron fence), but it was worth it to see the barge move slowly past as the light changed.
Leaving the park, I passed the remnants of old habitation — stone drainage systems and level ground, the foundations of mansions long gone. The city felt nowhere near. I am so used to the jagged skyline of Manhattan visible from Greenpoint and so to emerge and see the edges of habitation blunted by the wild curve of forest felt surprising and important. I can’t tell you how beautiful it all was.