What Do You See?
Views abound in Boulder, Colorado, where we are spending the Memorial Day week-end with our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. Nestled as the town is at the foothills of the Rockies, with its ultra clear dry air, you can see for miles in every direction onto the plains and into the mountains. The locals clearly appreciate it, but it is the background reality of their lives. Real estate ads here in Boulder generally are not touting the view. It’s a given.
Views resonate in a completely different way in New York City. Even the tiniest sliver of greenery or distance adds value to an apartment and romance to the ad copy describing it. In Boulder, even though the houses are built close together, there is green space everywhere. The sky’s vast arch floats outside every window. But in the city the sky can seem remote, glimpsed through the canyons of skyscrapers if at all, its reach and mystery dissipated by the soaring buildings and 24 hour glow.
So in our New York urban landscape views take on a number of special meanings. Whether of park, river, or city, first and foremost they reconnect us with the sky. Views liberate the city dweller’s spirit, reintroducing a sense of connection to the natural world: its weather, the parade of clouds and sunshine, light and dark. With a view of the sky we might even be inspired by glimpses of the stars through the humid urban haze.
Views of park or river add an additional but related dimension. In looking at the park we are reminded of the seasons and their impact on the world outside our glass and concrete landscape. We see the pale green of spring’s first grass. The leaves bud, grow green, fade, and fall. We see flowers bloom and wither. Looking out at green space, as everyone does in Boulder, affords New Yorkers an ability to reconnect, if distantly, with the ebb and flow of the natural world.
Then add water. Views of pond, or lake, or river are endlessly serene and variable. The activities of water birds, the play of the wind or the tides on the surfaces, provide both moment to moment changes and a deep sense of permanence. For most of us there is something profoundly soothing and eternal about the sight (and sound) of water.
Views add enormous value to New York City properties. They confer status on locations such as Fifth Avenue, Central Park West, and Gramercy Park. But why? I believe it is more than prettiness. In reconnecting us with the cycles of the natural world, and the sky, views refresh the soul. We all need some of that in our kinetically paced, head down, nose to the grindstone urban lives.