New York Stories: Suzanne Vega shares a New York memory

The veteran singer-songwriter is all about today’s squeaky-clean Manhattan—at least when it comes to Central Park

Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega Photograph: George Holz

Welcome to "New York Stories," in which some of our favorite New Yorkers tell a story—funny, heartwarming, sad, whatever—about this great city. This week, Suzanne Vega shares a tale about (and a photo of) Central Park.

How I love Central Park these days. I live close by and walk in it every day with my husband and my dog, Molly. I love the architecture of the various bridges and the interplay of the trees and sky during all the seasons. Some days it is gothic, dark and moody, other times cheerful with blue skies and flowers.

It’s a lot different than it was in the ’70s, when you would never go in there because you could get mugged or worse. My family preferred Riverside Park back then and would go there on Saturday afternoons. Once in a while, we’d go to Central Park on a Sunday for one of my stepfather’s ball games. Otherwise it was a place for drug dealers and addicts, or kids who cut school and wanted to get high.

I remember going to see Belvedere Castle on a school trip and seeing it covered in graffiti (and not the cool kind, either). Seeing it defaced and degraded made me feel vaguely ashamed, as though I had seen a great beauty stumbling drunk in public. It stayed with me. Since the Central Park Conservancy took over in the ’80s, though, the park thrives with all the care it receives. It really is like walking through
a living work of art.

Suzanne Vega’s new LP, Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles, is out Tue 18; she plays the Bell House May 2 and City Winery May 4. 

Photograph: Suzanne Vega

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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