Photo of the Week

With a love-related holiday taking place this weekend, I found a screenshot of Marilyn Monroe at a lakeside cafe on the shore of Harlem Meer.

Harlem Meer monroe

 I once argued with a coworker on who is the most beautiful dead celebrity of all time. That was an easy choice. The man in the background, a victim of temptation would surely agree, assuming that he outlived her.

The photo of Marilyn at Harlem Meer was shot in 1957 by famed photographer Sam Shaw, a lifelong New Yorker who was also responsible for that other famous Marilyn photo. When one reads about her rise from obscurity, towards idol status followed by her subsequent death, perhaps it would be better to think what would have happened if she had remained an obscure and unhappy California housewife. Shaw had known Monroe from 1952 until her death a decade later, snapping her throughout Central Park and together with her third husband Arthur Miller.

Another interaction between Marilyn and a hidden waterway is a still from May 1957, also by Sam Shaw, where she is rowing at The Lake in Central Park.

monroe lake

About Harlem Meer

The northernmost of Central Park’s waterways, this artificial lake occupies the former confluence of Montayne’s Rivulet and Harlem Creek, a point where the freshwater creeks widened into a brackish estuary on their way towards the East River.

harlem meer map

The boathouse where Monroe had her lunch was constructed in 1947 as part of the reconstruction of Harlem Meer that gave the lake a concrete shoreline and bottom. By the 1980s, the boathouse had fallen into ruin and was demolished. Its replacement, the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center was completed in 1993, flawlessly designed in the rustic Victorian style seen throughout Central Park.


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