A children's book for grown-ups by Jon Evans

October 19, 2007

90. Afterword

In 1935, the New York Times reported the discovery of an eight-foot alligator in a manhole on East 123rd Street. As recently as 2001, a five-foot caiman was captured in the Harlem Meer in Central Park. Deer have been seen on Staten Island. Tigers have lived in Harlem high-rises. A coyote was found in Central Park in the summer of 2005. In October 2007 a seven-foot python was found emerging from a Brooklyn toilet. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve, and indeed Central Park itself, are havens for birds from all over the world. And few New Yorkers would be surprised to learn that illegal dogfights take place in abandoned warehouses in darkest Brooklyn.

One could, if one were so inclined, inspect many of the places Patch visited during his adventures. His drey is somewhere on the tree-covered hills near West 83rd Street, the highest point in Central Park. Karmerruk flew him all the way to Fresh Kills on Staten Island, once the world's largest trash dump, now a park - albeit one built on millions of tons of garbage and bubbling methane. Patch travelled across Staten Island to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which he could not cross. Instead his adventure on the boat took him to the wild and overgrown beaches near Fort Tilden. From there, he and Zelina traversed the Cross Bay Bridge to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve.

After being captured and caged, they escaped from a Brooklyn warehouse near the Pulaski Bridge over Newtown Creek. After exploring the Hidden Kingdom, they rode a bus across the Brooklyn Bridge, disembarked in lower Manhattan, and headed north. Patch went underground to find Sniffer at the 8th Street/NYU subway station. He and the cats escaped the rats on the N/R, and rode it all the way to the 59th Street station. There he followed Zelina to Park Avenue - aka the Great Avenue - and then turned back to his home in Central Park.

The Center Kingdom is easy enough to navigate. White's tree is somewhere near the southeast corner of the park. The Dungeon is, of course, the Central Park Zoo; the Ramble is, conveniently, the Ramble; the Great Sea is the Onassis Reservoir; and the Labyrinth is the Conservatory Garden. The stone spire where Patch meets Coyote for the second time is Cleopatra's Needle. The Northern Sea is the Harlem Meer.

Much of the underworld is inaccessible to oversized humans, but there are exceptions. The abandoned subway station at Broadway and 91st, where Patch and White found themselves after their encounter with the Legless, is visible for a few flashing seconds if you peer carefully out of passing trains. The huge Amtrak tunnel runs up the west side of Manhattan, beneath Riverside Park. And the massive and long-disused Croton Aqueduct stretches for 41 miles from Central Park, north through the very belly of Manhattan, across the abandoned High Bridge into the Bronx, and along the Aqueduct Trail in Van Cortlandt Park. It is there, at an abandoned way station that still stands, where the squirrels finally emerged into daylight.

All of these places lie within the five boroughs of magnificent New York City.

Well, th-th-that's all she I wrote, folks. Thanks for reading Beasts of New York. Hope you enjoyed it half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Jon Evans is the award-winning author of the thrillers Invisible Armies, Dark Places (aka Trail of the Dead), and The Blood Price. See his web site rezendi.com.

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