October 7, 2020
On the Upper East Side of Manhattan lies Carl Schurz Park, a quiet space that is the epitome of tranquility. From the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, this park, where the hustle and bustle of the city seems far away, has provided a much-needed reprieve from the months spent indoors.
Gracie Mansion, the home of Mayor Bill de Blasio, sits at the forefront of the park, and to the left, a winding staircase levels out to the river. As the sun slowly crests over the buildings, the East River sparkles and the pink and orange hues creep into the sky.
Arching trees lead the way to a stone bridge that overlooks a Peter Pan statue where couples chat under the canopy. Sidewalks throughout the park are lined with fenced areas for dogs to run while family members play chess on the tables that stretch along the walkway.
Although the rest of New York City is grappling with the pandemic, the worries of the city are subtly absent from this riverwalk. Couples walk arm in arm along the river, social distancing from those around them, but using this moment to remove the mask that covers their face every time they leave home.
The smiling nod one individual gives another is evidence that those visiting the park have formed a camaraderie, an understanding, they are all in this together: the children on their bikes, the elderly on benches, the man walking the dog and the woman who pets the animal, laughing as the pup begs for attention.
At the end of the day, as the sun goes down and the park lights turn on, New Yorkers see one common message displayed on each light post:
“We are New York Tough.”