Words and Photos By Clark Adomaitis
The following piece appeared in the September 2019 edition of The Campus.
In these final weeks of summer, plenty of space on campus exists for us to enjoy Harlem’s fleeting sunny afternoons, cool end-of-summer breezes, and relaxing nights under the stars. All students and staff can relax with a friend, study, do yoga, or play frisbee on our lush and regularly watered green spaces to maximize the rest of the season. But which one is the best? Which green space is the largest? How much foot traffic do the lawns see? How much sun do the lawns see daily? What is the health status of the grasses? Am I relaxed on these lawns? What activities would be best on this lawn? I took on the task of answering all these questions by rating all the green spaces around campus so everyone can enjoy them while the nice weather lasts. Which is your favorite lawn at CCNY?
Shepard Hall Lawn
This lawn surrounds the majestic, architecturally beautiful castle that is our Shepard Hall. Arguably CCNY’s flagship lawn, the rich green color, and its often-mowed condition makes it aesthetically pleasing. The lawn receives plenty of sunlight hours, which makes this lawn healthy and creates a great basking spot for sunbathers. The gentle hill-like topography makes the space both exciting and cozy. The lawn is surrounded by a two-and-a-half-foot tall rock wall, which adds a layer of seclusion and enclosure while still leaving it accessible. The lawn is quite large despite the castle behind it that seems to dwarf it and the rich green grass has hints of yellow which energizes the space. The attitudes of students on the lawn mimic these moods with both sporty or relaxing activities. Often, students can be found playing frisbee, throwing a football, sunbathing, listening to music, or reading. This central location on campus seldom sees any planned events, so leisure time dominates the space.
St. Nicholas Park
This long park expands from 130th Street to 140th Street, laying adjacent to campus. Chock-full with trees, grassy areas, basketball courts, a playground, and pavement to walk on, the park sees both foot traffic from students commuting to the B and C trains on 135th and residents of Harlem passing through or exercising. The grassy area is very hilly so it is not great for sport, but it is great for a picnic. The thin grass is not that cozy, but if you find a nice patch to sit on you will have a splendid view of tall trees and the upper Manhattan skyline. This park makes for a pleasant excursion for students looking to relax, eat, or socialize. Nonetheless, beware of this hill post-rain: mud galore!
Unnamed Lawn on South Campus
The lawn at the southernmost point of South Campus overlooks the beautiful glass structure, CCNY’s Center for Discovery and Innovation. The lawn is also next to John H. Finley Campus School, PS/MS 129M, where you can hear the playful shouts and cheers of schoolchildren throughout the day.
This special space is enclosed by hedges on all sides, making it secluded and peaceful. Due to its location on campus, the law is not very populated. Ecologically, the grass is a tad weedy and the hedges can be a bit buggy when the air is humid, so come prepared with long socks and bug spray. Regardless, it is a great place for sunlight, tanning, and relaxing yoga. The flat field sizes up to a small soccer field which makes it great for any team sports, impromptu or organized.
Wille Administration Lawn
This small lawn sees a plethora of students daily as it is in the center of campus between the NAC, Marshak, and Shepard Hall. Students walk across this shady space to handle matters with administration as well. The spot is surrounded by six benches with no backs, so many people can fit on them. Throughout the day you can find students sitting on them to eat lunch midday. The lawn also has two awesome, large, wooden chairs that are easy to snuggle up in for a midday nap. Guitarists and singers sometimes set up in front of the space to share their music, making the space a very pleasant one to spend time in.
Lawn next to Architecture Building
Another one of the least populated lawns on campus, this field seems to go on endlessly as it fills the gap between the architecture building and the Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) building. The lawn is home to some old gargoyle pieces from old architecture on campus, and a large wooden structure that seems to be an architecture student project. The space’s gentle gradient makes for a great place to nap as well as for rolling around on! Rarely, soccer players will kick around a ball on the grass. The grass is not too soggy long after rainfall, and does not get watered as often as the field in front of the CDI does.
Lawn in front of the Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI)
The largest lawn on campus, this grand oval field is not very populated, with only occasional frisbee players and picnic takers. On the eastern side of the field, people walk calmly to and from the Towers. Laying down or standing up, you can experience expansive 360-degree vistas of Harlem housing developments to the West, CCNY’s main buildings to the north, the CDI to the East, and the New York City skyline including the Empire State Building to the south. This large field is lined with young trees and emergency telephones that can contact public safety. Additionally, this field is regularly patrolled at night by public safety, making this field one of the safest on campus. This field is home to CCNY’s largest student life event, Lavender Fest, the final event of Lavender Fever Week. During the festival, the field sees tables of food, bouncy castles, organizations giving out freebies, and students dancing to music. Despite this field’s beauty, it does have some nuisances. The soil retains a lot of water long after rainfall. Also, the often muddy field is watered at night. If you are planning a peaceful and dry walk, stay away. Additionally, the lawn is mowed infrequently because of its small amount of foot traffic. Overgrown weeds and dandelions are common.
The Towers’ Lawn
This green space is what the six hundred residents of The Towers enjoy each time they exit and enter the dormitory. The space hosts many Towers events, including free food evenings, Holi celebrations, and Lavender Week celebrations. The lawn experiences residents relaxing or studying day and night, and its picnic tables come in handy. The sun illuminates the field from 10am to 5pm, making for a vibrant and healthy lawn. One major pitfall of this lawn is that the grass is extremely soggy after rainfall, so come prepared with boots. Also, since the lawn is adjacent to a large amount of residents’ foot traffic, this might not be the best place to silently relax. However, you may run into a friend.
Aaron Davis Hall Lawn
This small lawn is trodden, soggy, and underkept. It retains water and snow long after precipitation occurs. During the summer, it is under watered, as evident by its yellow and brown tinge. Theatre students and theatre visitors trudge across this field daily to access Aaron Davis Hall. Therefore, shoes get caked in mud and dirt, and the grass wears thin.