went out jogging, only to be brutally raped and beaten by a gang of black teenagers. This example of inter-racial violence became an international news story. Irate black community leaders pointed out that on the same night a Harlem woman was murdered under even more gruesome circumstances and this episode was hardly mentioned in the local press.
Race relations in America may be as bad as ever, but Central Park has come bouncing back. The northern section of the Park, where the attack took place, has been the subject of a costly renovation programme that has begun to bear fruit. The Harlem Meer lake, for example, has been transformed from a marshy swamp into a playground where locals of all ages can go fishing and sunbathing. In actual fact the Parks and Recreation Department was working hard to improve things before 1989. Fun projects like Steve “Wildman” Brill´s “eating tour” of Central and other Parks were a case in point. Brill´s tour does not take you to restaurants: it shows the edible plants that are yours for free. Throughout the city, smaller parks are being transformed from havens for low-lifes into places where normal people can go and relax. The case of Central Park is a bit like that of New York as a whole: in spite of the image problem, things were probably never that bad. After all, Jackeline Kennedy Onassis used to go jogging in Central Park every day and the only people who used to bother her where the press photographers.
(adapted from Speak Up, nº 121)