Central Park Mall
Harvey Bradley Dodworth
18 April 2013
“The threatening state of the weather yesterday, which like a bad bill, was always promising to pay and didn’t, kept many visitors away from the Park. Rain or no rain, however, some fifteen thousand persons presented themselves, and it is satisfactory to add that the concert passed off without interruption from Jupiter Pluvius. There was a sensible diminution in the number of carriages on the Mall, and also on the broad drive from Fifth avenue round by the Green and the head of the lake, which, by tacit consent, is coming to be regarded as the ‘Rotten Row’ (let us hope a more savory name will be given it) of the Western World, where the rank and fashion of upper tendom can take their airing without hurrying, and can see and be seen of their friends and can admire and be admired at leisure. Small as the concourse of spectators was comparatively, there were salient features enough in the crowd to make up a remarkable picture. Among the visitors there were as usual many of the exiled children of Abraham, who resort in large numbers to the Park on their holy day, and who apparently find the borders of the Croton lake a more pleasant place of sojourn than the waters of Babylon proved to their forefathers. Plainly noticeable also were many fugitive Southerners, to whom the scene must have suggested strange thoughts. The Arabs have a proverb that ‘the camel knows himself when he goes under the mountain.’ Assuredly these [sic] once overbearing ‘chivalry’ must here feel pretty much in the shade, looking on the evidences of wealth and prosperity surrounding them, and reflecting upon their own poverty-stricken plantations. But these were only odd items in the sum total. Of the other visitors what can be said? Dressed with that marvelous combination of ease and elegance which Americans in the hot season understand so well, they gathered round the music stand, swarmed up the fragrant flower-besprinkled slopes, and even peopled the distant knolls where only an occasional grunt of the double basses, or an extra thud of the drums, could reach them, and where their musical delectation must have been about as great as that derived from an African tom-tom. A sapient showman once defined America as ‘them blessed antipodes,’ where everything was the reverse of what it was in the rest of the world. Perhaps he was not far out in this crude estimate. At any rate, nowhere else could we find such a gathering, in such a place, unmarred by officious policemen, or red legged soldiery and aiguiletted officiers superieurs. There is an open moor on the outskirts of an English manufacturing borough, known as the ‘lungts of Leeds.’ Our Park, year by year, as our irrepressible boundaries extend further and further in that direction, is becoming the lungs of New York, and a very capacious pair of lungs it will be—worthy of such a city. Thousands of our citizens find here their Saratoga, their Newport, or their Cape May, and, renewed in body and mind, abundantly justify the wise liberality which called the Park into being and which seeks still further to extend its limits.
The musical programme yesterday was well chosen, as it generally is, and the selections from Lucrezia Borgia and the Bohemian Girl, together with the Bell Mazurka and the closing medley, introducing Auld Lange Syne and Home, Sweet Home were given with admirable effect.
There were seats and shelter in plenty. Five hundred extra Park settees, sixty [illeg.] seats and nine new and spacious awnings have been added since the commencement of the present season. And the pleasant addition has been made in the neighborhood of the Terrace by several new water jets.
The Park on the Fourth will present extra attractions. Two bands have been engaged, one of them for the lake, and arrangements have been made for the music to commence earlier than usual, so as to allow visitors to return in time for the fireworks."
“The Central Park, in New York, is certainly a great fact in the aesthetic, and to some extent the musical, culture of the people. Is it not pleasant to picture to oneself a scene like this described in the Tribune?
The fourth concert of the season was given at the Park on Saturday afternoon, by the Central Park Band, under the direction of H. B. Dodworth. The selections were well made, and creditably rendered, to an assembly far too vast to enjoy the music; thousands wandering off in various directions, lounging on the grass, boating on the lake, looking at the (at present) very diminutive zoological collection, taking the air in carriages, feeding the swans, partaking of ices, and luxuriating in modes too numerous to mention. The day was charming, a delicious breeze springing up about the time of the concert, and continuing until long after sunset. The sky was as soft and blue as the eye of Laura di Noves bending over the passionate sonnets of Petrarch; the air was balmy and delicious as the blooming vales of Andalusia. The heavens seemed to kiss the earth, and each to glow with new beauty horn of the dear caress. Little was left to desire physically as one sat on the benches or reclined on the smooth sward; the zephyrs stirring the leaves or playing in his hair; the eye resting on other broad, sweet, green shade—a grateful oasis in the brick and mortar desert of the city—with a full and exquisite sense of repose; the soft, melancholy music of Schubert or the vivacious, half-intoxicating strains of Strauss floating and throbbing through the atmosphere into the melody-awakened heart with a semi-voluptuous, semi-spiritual influence. Thousands of citizens and strangers were there on foot and in vehicles of all kinds.”