Thursday, October 9, 2008

"Treasures in the Harbor"

Mention National Parks and many New Yorkers will think of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the treasures of the West. But a new WNET documentary reminds viewers that the Gateway National Recreation area provides New Yorkers with wild land and historical sites.

"Treasures in the Harbor" takes the form of a tour around Gateway's lands, with side visits to inland historic sites and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Enthusiastic park goer that I am, I was nevertheless pleasantly introduced to some places I've never been, like the woodsy inland areas of Sandy Hook and the interior of Floyd Bennett Field.

The park lands explored in "Treasures in the Harbor" gain something from the their location in and around the nation's largest city. As a surfer at Sandy Hook reminds viewers, the ocean lets you find wilderness at the city's doorstep.

Sandy Hook might be part of suburban New Jersey, but once you get out onto the Atlantic you're at sea. I've felt the thrill of that knowledge many times from the cockpit of a kayak, and I'm glad to see that surfers feel the same way. The more of us who love the water, the more likelihood that we'll work to keep it clean and accessible to all.

And as a segment on Floyd Bennett Field shows, a forest campground at the foot of Flatbush Avenue can introduce a child to camping. Watching kids on a summer overnight sit around a campfire at Floyd Bennett Field, I was reminded how trips to Harriman State Park led me to a life in the outdoors in points as far afield as Alaska, the Adirondacks and Kenya. A campsite in Brooklyn might be the start of a love of the outdoors that takes a child equally far.

Finally, there's a mixing of people in these parks that reconciles the best of the country and the city. Artists given special facilities so they can paint on Governor's Island, retired men restoring a lighthouse at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, and kids cleaning up beaches: all of them are people from different walks of life, brought together by common passions, to work together at what they love in national parks.

Out of their differences, they find ways to work alongside each other. At their best, cities help make that happen--along with the parks that you'll discover in this film.

No comments: