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the beauty of nature through a unique lens

"Is there anything to live for besides beauty?"

Charles F. Kennedy


Click on image for NPR's remembrance of Charles and for other NPR video and audio clips featuring Charles and his friends.

Charles Francis Kennedy

“I often think of Charles and talk about him at work. One of my favorite things about Charles was how he got me to slow down and look at the park. As Woodland Manager, I am often very busy and I run around the park getting things done.  With Charles I would stop and admire the beauty of the park where I work everyday." 
Regina Alvarez, former Woodland Manager, Central Park Conservancy
     Amateur naturalist, photographer, essayist, and poet Charles Kennedy rose to celebrity status among New Yorkers who lined Fifth Avenue to wonder at the Red-tailed Hawk known as Pale Male. 
    A University of Iowa graduate and proud native of Iowa, Charles spent his entire adult life in New York City in a love affair with Central Park and her diverse natural wonders. Kennedy was a member of the Central Park Conservancy's Woodlands Advisory Board and he was an interpreter at the live butterfly exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. He "ruled a brook in Central Park so birds could bathe" and he maintained a garden for butterflies near the Loeb Boathouse so the "frail children" would have a safe haven in the city. When he died in October of 2004, Charles left a substantial body of unpublished  photographs, photo-essay books, and haiku poetry focused on the natural world of Central Park in New York City. To date, three volumes of his work have now been published. Charles is also prominently featured in the award-winning documentary film "The Legend of Pale Male."
 In His Own Words....

I was born and raised in Iowa. For years I believed I should have been born to a New York family. It took me over 20 years to get to New York City. And luckily I was right about my first migration. New York has been my longest love affair. There’s a vibrancy, and excitement, about this magnificent city. But it is just a city. The part that clinches it for me is the color green––the green of a great park. I wouldn’t have to live in New York City, except for Central Park. This park, this square mile and a third, invented in the middle of this major urban space, is as varied and stimulating as the city as a whole. And what I fly to in the park is the birds. The park is used by up to 200 species every year. In the last decade, there have been 268 species recorded in Central Park. During spring migration this magical green spot is a mandatory destination for thousands of birds. They need our park, and it turns out that many of us need them.
I worked as a jeweler for a number of years, with gorgeous stones, minerals, fossils, natural crystals. And that’s what the birds are—only they move. They are these exquisite gem stones, many the weight of a nickel, that can migrate for many thousands of miles and arrive here in this tight little island. Their beauty is extraordinary and the fascination is endless.

From audio tape transcript of Charles preparing material for Frederic Lilien’s documentary film
"The Legend of Pale Male."