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  • Destination: Take a Break at Gantry Plaza State Park


    As I drive my car down the road, it moves towards the apex of a hill. Not a grassy hill, but a hill of black and white striped lines. Other cars surround me, but not enough to make my route guideline on my GPS go red for heavy traffic. Not that I need that GPS to get there, and it isn’t like the traffic would deter me from going to my destination anyways. The black striped hill begins to plateau as I reach the top; that’s when the lights begin to pour over like they are shining through blinds in the morning. That’s when I begin to see the tops of structures that pierce the sky and glow, illuminating the night sky. Even on a cloudy night the sight before me is impressive. I’m looking at the city skyline, but I’m not going to Manhattan or anything like that. I just really enjoy that view that I see every time I go to my favorite place. That place being Gantry Park in Queens.

    Gantry Park is located on 4-09 47th Rd, Queens, NY 10007, as per Google Maps. It is a state park in the East River. A trip to Gantry will flood your ears and eyes with many sights and sounds. First you need to find parking, which can prove to be a bit difficult as the streets are lined with cars like ants in a line. When I do eventually find parking, I make my way towards the park.

    On any visit to Gantry, the first thing you will hear is the sound of people playing soccer. There is always a group playing on a patch of turf. You will often hear the thwack of a foot lifting the ball off the ground and you will see the brush of grass that follows each kick, scattering the ground like confetti. I wouldn’t suggest calling the sport anything other than “football” in front of the players as they are all quite good and are surely enthusiasts.

    The walk there is never more than five minutes; it is never too strenuous. The park itself spans many many blocks, so I really haven’t even seen every part of it. Typically, my friends and I go to an area right by the Long Island Sign. The sign itself stands tall above the water and acts as a large archway for me and my friends as we walk out on the pier. At night, it is a beautiful sight as the sign stands proudly celebrating the place where we were all born in huge letters. The orange letters pop regardless of the time of day and command your attention, even at night. I don’t care too much about where I live, but I can’t help but feel a certain sense of pride whenever I see those letters.

    As you walk along the pier, you begin to see the landscape of the city unravel on the shoreline. This is everyone’s favorite part of the park. The buildings and lights twinkle like stars in the light. You can’t help but be sucked into staring and somewhat losing yourself in the moment. Even when you walk alongside it, there is this magnetic pull that turns your head to get a better look at the detail of each building. There is the Freedom Tower standing above all the buildings, a proclamation of the strength of New York. The Chrysler and Empire State Buildings stand to each side as two titans commanding the view. The smaller building has neon blocks that are different colors every time we go. It reminds me of something you would see in Blade Runner as it has somewhat of a cyberpunk style.

    I haven’t really mentioned the smells of the park because that is usually something we don’t really address until we are about to leave, because that is when we eat. Near the center of the park there is a large circle area with food trucks that collect around the circle. Each one vying for your attention. There is a pizza truck that smells like it shouldn’t be there. A taco truck which has some very aromatically pleasing tacos. I usually go there if I am going to eat as their tacos have a scent that seems to do a triple pike flip dive right into your nostrils. Then that same scent-related diver actually happens to be a ranger who lassoes you over to the truck as you notice your legs are now walking right over to it. The taco really wraps the night up quite nicely as I munch into it and feel the salty and spicy flavor move around my mouth like a chair rocking back and forth.

    If you can tolerate the hour’s drive and deal with some mildly inconvenient parking, Gantry Park is the place for you. In this modern world that moves so fast, it is a true benefaction to just be still and take in the impressive scale of what we humans have produced upon this earth. It inspires you to think about the fact if we can get this far, what does the future hold for us?





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