“Not very far out of Paris, to the northeast, lies a charming pleasure garden, known to the visitors as the Bois de Boulogne, and celebrated afar for its many attractions. It has grassy lawns and flowery parterres, roads and walks and drives à discretion, and fishponds and fountains à merville. Duchesses promenade there, lords and ladies course round its cirque, children and soldiers of the ‘Second Empire’ muster in profusion. The Bois de Boulogne is gay certainly, but we have a favored spot as gay, and more so. The Park is like the great pleasure garden of the Parisians. It has its walks and drives, and lakes and flower beds, but it has an additional charm which is wanting in its Gallican prototype. It is the park of a free people, and not the playground of a despot-ridden populace. It is free to all, open to all, possessed by all, and no mouchard, no prying police spy, is to be seen wandering around its extent to arrest its frequenters as is usually the case in the Bois de Boulogne.
The ride up in the cars may be disagreeable. It certainly is not pleasant to be obliged to stand up for an hour in a densely crowded vehicle and to have one’s favorite corns squeezed by an unsympathizing neighbor, while one experiences likewise a difficulty in breathing freely, and is so pinioned on either side as to be unable to move hardly; but then the relief of the fresh air at the journey’s end and the grand view of the open champaign to be seen from Fifty-ninth street make amends for all one’s sufferings. As if in contrast with the open glades of the Park and the pleasant green foliage of the trees around the enclosure, the shabby shanties of the squatters which mark the approaches on either side make a rude framework to the picture and enhance to a proportionate extent the attractions of the Park. Wednesday may be the grand day and the aristocratic day, but Saturday is the time to see that place in all its glory. Thousands of our citizens get away on that day from business and flock thither for enjoyment and fresh air, even as thirsty herds seek the spring, or Mynheer Van Wetter his lager beer tankard. The toils of the week over and the welcome wage in pocket, what so pleasant as a jaunt to the rural shades of the Bloomingdale pleasure garden to breathe the inspiring country air, hear the pleasant music discoursed by Dodworth’s band, see the hundreds of happy faces, especially those of the children, around—what so enjoyable, so soothing, so refreshing? Answer, Manhattan.
Yesterday was one of the loveliest days on which to study the Park and all its characteristics and multiplied charms. The day was one of those lovely peculiarity of our Western clime; and the air was cool and bracing although tempered and balmy. Thousands upon thousands of citizens were there all day, particularly at the period when the music began; and even up to a late hour ‘the cry was still they come.’ Dodworth’s selections were very happy. [List of the programme] The throng around the music stand was thick enough in all conscience, and thousands might also have been seen wandering through the myriad paths and woody lanes of the park; but on the common, where sundry base ball clubs assembled, the crowd was even greater. Here hundreds were to be seen participating in the national game, as enthusiastic as if they were engaged is some champion match, and the eagerness and impetuosity of the players were only equaled by the happy faces of the many lookers-on. As the shades of evening descended, and their appetites foretold the arrival of supper time, the visitors deserted the scene and wended their way homewards, pleased with the day, with the music and with this grand and enjoyable Bois de Manhattan, through the Park.”