More like I was burning. It was so hot today, nearly 30 degrees on the unofficial first day of summer in New York. We were intrepid and headed up to the far northern end of the 6 line, way up in the Bronx, to visit Orchard Beach. This is a wide arc of sand just off Pelham Bay Park, which is New York’s largest park. It’s nothing like its posh cousin, Central Park. It’s a bit more like Epping Forest than Hyde Park, if you like a London comparison. I think every resident of the Bronx and us decided to visit the beach today, which is Memorial Day.
In the UK you got a bank holiday today too, the usual end of May one that coincides with a week off school. Here, Memorial Day is huge. It’s ostensibly about remembering those who served their country, but in reality it’s a day off with an excuse to go to the beach if it’s hot, or take advantage of the vast amounts of sales going on in the various large department stores.
I’m not sure I’d recommend Pelham Bay Park as a tourist destination. It could do with a bit of TLC, a lot of litter clearance and more taxis. It is a long way out and if you want to get anywhere, you have to use the bus. Most of the time the buses are air conditioned to chill factor minus 100 but today, packed to the gills with mostly nearly naked beach goers, it was sweltering. I was hot. Very hot. Poor J, he ended up in the luggage rack, there was so little room to move. E held on to a pole for dear life and I did wonder if one of us might end up going through the windscreen there were so many people at the front of the bus.
The beach was pretty good and long enough at 1.1 miles to compete with the Brooklyn Bridge in length and volume of people on a busy day. When it was originally conceived in the 1930s it was known as the New York Riviera. It has a once grand pavilion, complete with tall columns and a certain art deco feel. But now, it’s unloved, boarded up and pretty much falling apart. What a shame there’s been no investment in it. Although to be honest, I think the New York Parks Department should spend some money and focus on sorting out the toilets first because they are awful.