200 Runs through Central Park.

By: Jen Shoop

I estimate I went on at least two hundred runs through Central Park while living in Manhattan, the vast majority of them over the last nine months.

Two hundred opportunities to flee the concrete jungle, to feel startlingly alone, to remember what dew looks like on grass, to watch the sun rise or set on water, to observe those lissom, near-invisible transformations of the natural world as it inches between seasons that remind us that “this, too, shall pass.”

Is it mawkish to say that for three years, Central Park made living in Manhattan manageable, and that, for the past year, during the pandemic, it made living in Manhattan possible?

Today, we leave New York, and words fail me. In lieu of unvarnished prose: an unpolished journal of photographs taken while running through her the past many years.

I L N Y.

central park in summer
central park in summer
central park jackie o reservoir
central park, heckscher ballfields, on the brink of fall
central park in fall
central park in fall, row boats
central park in fall, bethesda fountain
central park in winter
central park in snow
central park in winter fog
central park in spring
great lawn, central park, in spring
central park in spring

Post-Scripts: All Things New York City.

+New York is still a shock.

+To the boy at the 23rd street stop.

+An apostrophe to the Upper West Side.

+We made it, New York.

+On observing the dawn of spring in Central Park post-pandemic.

+One of my favorite corners of Central Park.

+New York ephemera.

+If you are raising a family in NYC, you need these things.

+On owning a dog in NYC.

+My New York apartment judges me.

+And because I need to hear it today: all things must end to begin again.

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26 thoughts on “200 Runs through Central Park.

  1. Love your photo journal… what a blessing to have that magnificent park at your doorstep! I hope you find a similar beautiful greenspace to run in D.C. 🙂
    xo H

    1. Thank you! I treasure these photos. I can remember specific details from each of the runs that led me to snap these shots. So glad I have them to hang on to!


  2. Oh Jen! This is so bittersweet. I love the many moods of Central Park captured in your photos. Best of luck to you and your family! As you always say: Onward!

  3. Jen—One of my favorite things about your writing is how you capture the way emotion and memory intertwine with place. What a beautiful tribute to a city that saw you through so much! Wishing you the best of luck during your move. Welcome back to DC!

    1. Wow, thank you for the tremendous compliment! I remember working with a design firm in another life and the lead designer said, almost off-handedly, “well, yes — space is transformative of experience.” I’m always intrigued by those cross-pollinations. Super interesting in literature, too!


  4. Love these shots – I take similar snaps along my runs around DC/Capitol Hill and it’s always so illuminating to see the seasons change in the same frame throughout the years.

    Heading up to NYC this weekend (mostly for the Medici exhibit at the Met!) but hoping to squeeze in a run around Central Park (or across the bridge to Brooklyn, if I’m feeling ambitious).

    Cheers to your sign off on NYC and your (re)entrance to the DMV!

    1. Thank you! Hope you enjoyed your trip (how was the exhibit?) and run! Exciting to think about my new running routes in DC. There are some good trails to run that I’m currently trying to figure out in terms of convenience/proximity and aesthetics/challenge.


    2. Thank you – the weekend in NYC was fantastic. Great food, long walks (+ a run to Brooklyn and back), shockingly decent weather. All in all, equal parts busy and restorative.

      I definitely recommend exploring some of the Rock Creek Park trails. I’ve lived here for 8ish years and only started running them last year – kicking myself! Esp. in the summer, it’s nice run in the shady woods vs. the sticky sidewalks/concrete in the more urban areas of the city.

      1. Hi! You did it! Ran to BK and back! I’m so glad you did that!

        Agree on the trails. Looking forward to running Cabin John, Rock Creek Park, and Crescent!


  5. I found that one is never ready to leave New York – words fail indeed. I have also found that visits back to the city let me step back into that part of myself, that mode. I tear up whenever the plane touches down in NYC, and I am in tears over this post. All of which goes to say, New York will stay with you.
    Cheers to your move, to the next phase!

    1. Aw – Jean! Thanks for writing this. There is just something about NY that really transforms, endears, and challenges people. Glad to know I will continue to feel that connection even years out!


  6. Bon voyage and bonne chance! I’m thinking of you today as you sail off to your new home, and sending all my best wishes your way. Your New York will always be yours. <3


  7. I am visiting friends in New York this week and thought of you when I went for a run through the park yesterday. I saluted Jackie O and you as I rounded the reservoir! Bon voyage and best of luck with the move! xx

    1. This totally warmed my heart, Katherine! Love the idea of us saluting the reservoir separately. So special. Thank you for the well wishes!


  8. Jen! These are giving me all the feels! “I want to be a part of it… New York, New York !” Congrats! You made it there and you’ll make it anywhere. Can’t wait to follow your next chapter. Xo

  9. As a person who was raised in Manhattan and moved away, know that the city is part of who you become. Over the years, each visit is a sweet reminder of earlier days and brings a new affection for the city while seeing it through loved one’s eyes. This fall I’ll return to drop my daughter off at college and she’ll embark on her NYC journey. ILNY, too!
    All the best to you.

    1. Wow! Full circle for you this fall. So special. Thanks for the well wishes and reminder that I can still carry this special place with me elsewhere.


  10. Beautiful! I remember walking out of the park with a colleague on a business trip 15ish years ago, and another tourist asked us for directions. My, how I preened at being mistaken for a local! Haha. Wishing you a similar feeling of self-satisfaction as you complete your move 🙂

    1. Haha! I so hear that. I was stopped a number of times on subway/street when I was a newcomer myself and I remember peacocking around in satisfaction, too 🙂


  11. Best of luck on your new adventure! I’m sure all good things await you, and New York will always be here for you. Who knows – maybe Mini or Micro will have their own stints in New York when they’re in their 20s, and you can be the mom who visits and treats them to brunch and shows them their original stomping grounds!!

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