A Zoo in the middle of NYC

“My grandpa is very old,” the boy told me in a hushed tone.

“He is?” I smiled.

“Yeah, he even lived when it was no iPhone and no TV!” he announced. “That’s even very old.”

“I guess so,” I noted, keeping to myself the fact that I, too, lived well before there were iPhones (and when there were only black-and-white TVs).

“I think maybe they had a little iPhone, though,” the boy reconsidered, disbelieving a possible reality without the device. “Because they taked pictures … like with iPhone camera. My grandpa showed me a picture from when they had a zoo in the middle of New York.”

“The Central Park Zoo?” I offer.

“No!” the admonishing tone lets me know I am completely off track. “We still have that zoo. Its not from old times. It is there now even. I mean a zoo in the middle middle middle of New York. In the middle of the street Empire building. With wild animals and elephants.”

“Maybe you are thinking of the Museum of Natural History?” I tried.

“You not listening,” he shook his head at me, exasperated at my inability to follow such a simple narrative. “I telling you and you’re not listening. They had a zoo in the middle of the middle of the street. Zebras and things. Walking around. Maybe it was when the dinosaurs still lived …” he mused.

I looked helplessly at the mother, who was doing all she could to keep a straight face.  This little guy did like tall tales, and I was wondering if this story was a combination of dream, stories, and wishful thinking. His mother’s levity confused me further.

“I’m sorry,” she giggled. “He did the same to me … You see, what happened was that my dad showed him some photos of old New York in a book and they came across this photo of … well … here, you’ll see …” She pulled out her phone (yes, an iPhone) and flipped through some apps before turning the screen so I could see.

“Told ya!” the boy trumpeted. “When it was a long time ago and my grandpa was still a little old they had a zoo in the middle of the middle of the street Empire Building! See?!”

NYC 1968 Circus in town

NYC 1968 Circus arriving in town, 33rd Street

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