Despite it being near the top of our shortlist of possible places to move to, and just a short walk across the park from our current location, other than a couple of brief forays we hadn’t spent any time at all on the Upper West Side. Last weekend we decided to remedy this – in the end we found ourselves there on both Saturday and Sunday – and I’m very glad that we did.
Crossing Central Park on Saturday afternoon, we paused to admire some ice carving going on in front of Belvedere Castle, before pressing on to our ultimate destinations – a dedicated gluten free grocery store and the best knitting shop I’ve ever been to. We also enjoyed wandering around some of the streets in the area – the buildings are generally shorter than on the Upper East Side, and the residential streets seemed a little grander with more old houses and fewer apartment blocks (though I’m sure many of the houses have been converted).
Sunday found us back on the UWS for brunch before an educational afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History. This was my first visit to the AMNH and I must say I was impressed. Particularly in the dinosaur galleries, the signage was enormously detailed but also laid out in such a way as to make it attractive to adults and children alike – you could learn a huge amount if you wanted to, but could equally just glance over a few details and enjoy the displays. I was especially pleased to encounter the eponymous hero of a favourite childhood tv series…
Other parts of the museum were quite different in style. In some areas cases were packed with multiple samples of similar items (whether stuffed birds or semiprecious stones), which I felt was less effective – more impressive were the several large galleries devoted to detailed dioramas of animals and birds in representations of their natural habitat.
We ran out of steam before we’d had a chance to explore the space science part of the museum, though we did manage a brief look round the meteorites room (where I was particularly excited to see the samples of moon rock). We also skipped over most of the anthropological exhibits – the juxtaposition of human origins, indigenous peoples and cultural artefacts with the natural history side of things felt a little bit uncomfortable (plus T isn’t so interested in anthropology in any case) – though I’d like to have a proper look at them on another visit.