Tags: manhattan



I need ideas.

One of the elements in my NaNoWriMo book (magical realism) concerns the gates leading in to Central Park. There are 20 gates, each named rather whimsically by architects Vaux and Olmsted with names like "Warriors Gate" and "Gate of All Saints" and "Artists Gate". In fact, the working title of my novel is "Strangers Gate", which is the entrance right down the street from where Random and I lived for 8 years.

Here's the thing. I want them to mean something kind of cool and subtly supernatural...but I don't know what, yet.

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I've been reading up on Vaux & Olmsted's philosophies, plumbing some Victorian-era spiritualism for thoughts. Anyone know any weird dirt on either of them? Were they Masons? ('cause I couldn't find a bio for either of them that said so)

Likewise, the gates taken as a whole are not suggesting anything to me yet...20 is not really all that esoteric a number.

Here are my thoughts so far:

1) The gates as a whole could be fairly normal, with perhaps one or two having some weird history or deeper meaning (like, oh, I dunno, Strangers Gate?)
2) The park as a whole was built to protect or preserve something, and the gates are clues to what that something is
3) You enter a slightly different park depending on which gate you go through
4) Certain gates have a particular power or significance at particular times
5) Greensward = Green's Ward? Green Sword? Green Skin (sward means skin)? What could those mean?


Strangers Gate is actually pretty interesting overall...it's at 106th St. and CPW, which is much higher uptown than most tourists ever go, so it's pretty quiet. It's just below The Ramble, which is basically a forest at the northern end of the park. The "gate" itself is a steep, high flight of very wide dark slate steps curving up through a rocky face a couple of stories high. When you get to the top, you're at "Big Hill" or "Great Hill", which is a wide roundish field on the hilltop surrounded by trees. If you go across it and into the woods, you follow a curving downward path that leads to a big pond where there are all kinds of unusual birds, and to a giant, heavy, dark stone arch that leads into the Ramble and that Random and I always called the troll bridge 'cause it straddles a stream and is deep enough inside for trolls to hide in. Across CPW from Strangers Gate is the building that used to be the local haunted house, NYC's first cancer hospital built in the late 1800's, which you can see here. (The reason it has those lovely turrets is apparently that some genius back in the day decided that cancer-causing microbes lived in corners and therefore round rooms were more sterile.)

Any thoughts? I may very possibly just hit upon an answer myself as I'm writing, but I'm not having any luck at the moment...