Saturday, June 7, 2008

"Rural" New York City

Alexander Hamilton's home, "the Grange," was moved today from one Manhattan location to another, just a few blocks apart. David W. Dunlap reports in the New York Times, "the two-story, 298-ton wood-frame house will be rolled conspicuously — and slowly — from its cramped site on Convent Avenue to an appropriately verdant new location a block away in St. Nicholas Park, facing West 141st Street. That is as close as it can get these days to the rural setting for which it was originally designed." ("Grange" means "a farm, with its nearby buildings" according to my Random House College Dictionary).

Note the use of the word "rural" in the story, albeit in a qualified manner, to characterize a Manhattan locale. It reminded me of a 1963 New York Superior Court decision in which aspects of Central Park's "rural character" were referred to as justification for its preservation. It also recalled some Montreal tourist literature using the word "rural" to refer to Mont Royal park, another oasis which Frederick Law Olmstead helped to create. They're not exactly my idea of rurality, but I suppose some connotations of the word are reflected in these lovely green spaces that relieve and refresh residents of their respective metropolises.

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