When I was little, my mom could get rid of me with two simple words: "go play." I used to know what that meant. If someone told me to just "go play" these days, I wouldn't know where to start.
Astoria's double-whammy of public space, Rainey Park and Socrates Sculpture Garden, gives me a few ideas.
Rainey Park, a brisk five-minute walk from the Broadway N Q station in Astoria, Queens, is dominated by the looming view of Manhattan's East Side. When the jungle gym, playground, and dog run isn't crowded with neighborhood youngsters, its heights offer spectacular vistas with which to admire the high-rises from afar. Run fast enough down the stiff hill that leads towards the river, and you may just feel as though you could leap the river and onto one of these buildings.
Walk along the river towards the Costco and you'll come across what is possibly the nicest riverside walk you'll ever have in the parking lot of a big box store. Birch trees line the Hudson all along the walk to one of the best free art spaces in all five boroughs, Socrates Sculpture Park.
The remarkable thing about Socrates is its utter lack of "Please Do Not Touch the Art" signs. That's because you are encouraged to experience the sculptures for all they're worth. That means feeling the material, playing with certain elements, and even climbing on top of them, as was the case of the sculpture pictured above. This is art without the stuffiness, and what's better than that?
The park features rotating exhibitions, some solo and some by multiple artists. You can find out more about the current exhibition on their website.
By far the best aspect of Socrates Sculpture Park is the half-dozen feral cats that prowl the grounds. The groundskeeper that lives behind the park cares for them along with the sculptures, and, as you can see above, the cats are pleasant enough to be negotiated with (or petted).
From secret paths to interactive art, Rainey Park and Socrates Sculpture Park has got to be one of the best ways to spend a day in Queens. When the weather's bad, both parks are nearly abandoned, but be sure to wear boots. The grounds of Socrates become downright boggy after a stiff rain — but doesn't getting a little dirty make it all the more fun?
Published in full here: http://apagewrites.com/post/76967478685/urban-explorers-rainey-park-and-socrates-sculpture