Lincoln Park Live: Pedro Cortes

This Wednesday! Pedro lives in our neighborhood and he is an unbelievable flamenco artist. Bring your family and make an evening of it. This is a great event!


And for a preview, check out the performer here:


Meet the West Side Cartographer: Ethan.

Since sometime in the spring, someone has been making intricate and highly accurate maps in chalk on the sidewalks of Lincoln Park. My husband and I would come across them while walking the dog – we’d always get there after a rainstorm, so they’d be partially washed out, but you could tell all the details were there – street names, to-scale length and if the street twisted, and so forth. First time we saw them, we thought that someone must have been trying to convey directions to someone else – perhaps a parent was trying to explain to a kid how to get home, or something like that. They seemed much too detailed and accurate for a kid to have made alone, so that just made them more puzzling.

This Saturday, I left the house early with my dog and stumbled across a new one. This one hadn’t been touched by the rain, so I could see all the streets correctly and precisely filled in. My curiosity finally got the best of me, so I tweeted about it and posted a pic to our local neighborhood Facebook group:


I really never in a million years thought anyone would respond.

A few hours later, I had my answer:


Meet Ethan. He’s four, and he lives on the West Side.  He and his dad spend a lot of time in the park, drawing maps. And he’s just as brilliant, cute, and delightful as you would hope he’d be.

I just met up with Ethan and his dad, while Ethan was working on a new map of the area. He’s a little shy (but incredibly sweet), and I didn’t want to push him too much. But his dad helped fill in some of the story.

IMG_8112Ethan has a photographic memory, and “he can tell you all the states and their capitals, in alphabetic order.”  Also, all the countries in the world, by continent. Now he’s onto Jersey City. He makes all these maps entirely by himself (his dad would prompt him a bit like, “hey, what street is that coming off of JFK? [that he just drew on his own but didn’t label]” but no more than that), including writing all the street names (he has excellent penmanship). He perfectly captures the way that the street runs and how they connect to other streets, all by memory. If he makes a mistake, he Xes it out and keeps going. I watched him deftly and totally on his own map out a street and neatly declare it “MCADOO.” His favorite street is Kennedy Boulevard, because (I think this is what he said? he was being a little shy) it goes to so many places.

Ethan, drawing the Passaic River, feeding off the Hackensack.

So how does he know about all this stuff? Google Maps. He spends his time when he’s not in the hustle and bustle of pre-K staring at Google Maps and maneuvering around it. His mom wrote to me, “Ethan schools us all day long, constantly quizzing us. ‘Does Johnston connect to Summit? Name all the streets that connect to West Side.” He’s told his grandparents – who have lived on the West Side since 1973 – about streets that they’ve never even heard of.”

Ethan will work on a map over a few days with his dad. The rain kept washing away his progress on this latest map (located by the “bandstand” part of the park, near the flags and the fountain) so I was only able to grab one really decent picture of his progress. But the streets of the West Side are all there:


Ok LOOK. We live in very weird times. I didn’t know when I reached out on social media who the West Side Cartographer was going to be. This could have wound up many different ways, many of them creepy. But no, instead it’s totally fantastic: our resident West Side mapmaker is a wonderful kid with a lovely family, and he’s just out there doing his thing (and his parents are out there supporting him in the best possible way). I’m so impressed and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get (more than) a little teary-eyed writing this post.

So next time you come across those maps in Lincoln Park, just know that you can take a pic and plot your next trip based on them. Ethan totally knows what he’s doing.






Carnival at Lincoln Park (with update on 7/9)!

I’ve had quite a few people ask me about the carnival that’s set up in Lincoln Park. There’s very little info available online, so I went over to check it out. I went today, the 4th of July, in the middle of the afternoon. Thought it would be packed given the holiday, but it was pretty sleepy.

Here’s some details: it’s open from now til July 9th [update: see below]. It’s $3 to get in; rides are extra. You pay for rides by buying tickets and each ride is a different number of tickets (standard carnival stuff); for two adults to get on the Ferris wheel, it was $10 total. The rides seemed well-maintained and the grounds were very clean. Some of the game stands had “kids always win” signs – can’t say I really looked into that, though. It’s VERY small – just a few rides and games. But for the size it was, it was really nice.

The pictures are better than any text I can write:

Tiny carousel
This ride looked like the most popular and really fun…. if I wasn’t so chicken.
Round Up aka gravatron
Tiny rollercoaster.
IMG_8176 (1).jpg
Carny guy giving me serious stink-eye.
Excellent carnival food (I was very sad that they were not yet serving curly fries when I visited.)
More fair food.
Yet more fair food. They featured both fried oreos AND fried twinkies.

Jeff actually managed to get my into the Ferris wheel, which is some small miracle because I am completely terrified of all rides. All rides. When you see the size of this wheel, you’ll understand how crazy it was that I was scared. But the wheel was pretty cute and I didn’t cry.

Going up.



The view of Lincoln Park from the top. Yes, the guy running the ride stopped us up there (we were the only ones on the wheel.

UPDATE – JULY 9: Well, even though the carnival was slated to run til the end of the day, it suddenly and extremely quickly packed up and moved out last night. This morning, there was nothing left but the french fry stand; by now, I’m sure that’s gone too.

Ok, that sucks. I know a few people who were planning on coming out on the last day and bringing their kids, and now there’s suddenly no carnival. It’s seriously not cool. But also, not much we can do about it at this point. Sorry, everyone!