Today I took pictures of a park that, for better or worse, helped shape who I ended up becoming as a man. Before moving to New York City, just about everything I knew came from this bubble of a town called Schenectady.

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A frozen creek near the park’s Central Parkway Entrance.

I was unaware of how big a “Central Park” lied just 250 miles south of me. Instead, the only Central Park I knew was the one smack-dab in the middle of my home town, and it still seems like the one that resonates more with me today.

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The frozen pond.

There’s something special about the photographs I got today. They aren’t particular beautiful by nature, but I found beauty in the absences of nature in them. Uprooted jungle gyms, tennis courts, and park benches now leave this park a silhouette of what it was when I grew up.

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The southern side of the park, where the absence of jungle gyms leaves nothing but open space.

But the surrounding trees still remain. The pond, while frozen over, is still a sight to see if one ever has an unexpected visit to this small town. And the main playground and relatively-new basketball courts still remind me of the canvases where I painted my athletic build.

The snow, the frozen creeks, the lights illuminating the walkways as the daylight wanes on this near-arctic winter day; all of it spoke to me. It is the only place, despite it’s marred appearance, that in my 22 years of growth still seems just as big and wondrous to me as the moment I set foot in it as a toddler.

I can look at it at any time of the year and remember the cuts and bruises I suffered falling from monkey bars, the fights I witnessed on the courts, and the paddle boats I rented and paddled on the pond.

I remember the games I played and the people I met. And around this time of year, I would always go to a big hill to sleigh ride down it, flying so fast downhill I would end up stuck on the frozen pond.

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“Devil’s Hill,” where I built up a lot of leg strength scaling back up after a high-speed, bumpy trip down on my sled.

I came here today without much of a purpose, but after looking at my camera roll, I knew that just posting the photos alone wouldn’t tell enough of a story.

I remembered something; before journalism, my first ambition was to become a photographer, and I soon found that journalism brought me back to taking photos. And these were the first photos I took with my new camera in the place I first decided what I wanted to do, Schenectady, in the location where I spent time building who I ended up becoming.

Like them or not, here they are; photos of a place much more beautiful than meets the eye, more impactful than current conditions show, and more prevalent to me than any other.

 

 

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A tree outside the basketball courts. 
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A view of the pond at dusk, from the northern end of the park.

 

 

 

 

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