News & Blogs In Central Park, Finding a Bed Among the Trees (1 Viewer)

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Austin, TX
@Buffalo linked to this article that was pretty interesting, so i thought I'd repost it here for the rest of the community.

In Central Park, Finding a Bed Among the Trees


Cory and Dana Foht, 25-year-old twins from Florida, have spent some 20 nights over the past two months sleeping in hammocks hung in a Central Park tree. Credit Mustafah Abdulaziz for The New York Times
There is no shortage of places in Manhattan where visitors can spend the night. Luxury hotels offer lavish suites that can run thousands of dollars, and youth hostels have beds for as little as $20. At least one flophouse survives on the Bowery. And, of course, there is couch-surfing — countless travelers bunk with old friends or near-strangers for little more than an owed favor.

Cory and Dana Foht have taken another route. On some 20 nights over the past two months, the Fohts, 25-year-old twins from Florida, have climbed about 25 feet up the side of a tall European beech tree in Central Park, stretched nylon hammocks between its branches, unrolled sleeping bags and, with a few acrobatic moves, squirmed into their makeshift beds.

“It’s kind of like its own ecosystem up here,” Cory said one recent night as he lay in his hammock. “You’re definitely aware that you are sleeping in something and attached to something that’s alive.”

Their resting spot is not likely to be awarded any stars by the Michelin Guide, but it offers something the Fohts think is better: stars in an inky firmament directly overhead and obscured only by a screen of twigs and leaves.

“When you sleep inside, it’s warm and cozy,” Dana explained. “But it’s also like you’re sleeping in a box.”

Sleeping in the beech may be invigorating, but it is also illegal. Visitors are not allowed in Central Park between 1 and 6 a.m.; violators can be fined $50. While park rules do not explicitly forbid climbing any of its 24,000 trees, they do prohibit any behavior that damages a tree.

Police and parks officers go through Central Park each night and rouse anyone found sleeping. But those people are usually on a bench or under a tree. A spokeswoman said the Department of Parks and Recreation knew of no one who had recently been discovered slumbering in a hammock after curfew.

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Florida Gulf Coast University in 2007 and want to make documentaries, said that they were editing footage to create a 10-minute film about life in the beech, which they plan to post on YouTube. The two came to New York in September to participate in a rally for the preservation of community gardens, then decided to stay. They have spent some rainy nights in friends’ apartments, and occasionally hang their hammocks in the back room of a bicycle-repair workshop in Brooklyn where they volunteer as mechanics.

But they find themselves drawn back to their beech in Central Park. Spending a night there is spiritually restorative, they said, if a bit chilly of late. As the leaves and temperatures fall, the brothers said, their time in the tree is drawing to a close.

“I love this tree,” Cory said, adding that they always climb carefully, to avoid harming it. “Some of the most inspiring nights I’ve had in New York were spent here.”

One night this week, they entered the park about 9 p.m., wearing knit hats and backpacks, and keeping an eye out for others. They followed the shadowed turns of a path, then scrambled up the side of their beloved beech, grabbing thick branches and feeling for toeholds. A wintry wind whipped through the park, but by 10 p.m., aloft in the tree, it was as quiet as Manhattan gets. An occasional siren wailed, and a faint whistle could occasionally be heard from a Metro-North train emerging from the Park Avenue tunnel. The rumble of cars and trucks, though, washed into a high distant sound that blended with the rustle of the wind through the leaves.

About seven hours later, the brothers woke up as the sky began to brighten and reported that gusts of wind had rocked their hammocks for much of the night. In daylight, they showed off some of the tree’s features that they had come to appreciate most: the thick, leathery bark of its trunk, which provided climbing traction; the low, sweeping boughs that offered an easy path back to the ground; the dense foliage that gave cover from inquisitive eyes.

“It’s made an interesting little home,” Cory said.

Then the Fohts packed up their gear and headed for the Upper West Side, where they had stored their bicycles overnight with a friend. Joggers and dog walkers filled the park, but nobody appeared to give the itinerant tree-dwellers a second glance.

Correction: December 1, 2010
An article on Nov. 13 about twin brothers who had been sleeping in a tree in Central Park misidentified the type of tree. It is a European beech, not an American elm.

A version of this article appears in print on November 13, 2010, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Forget the Park Bench. Twins See a Better Free Bed Overhead. Order Reprints Today's PaperSubscribe

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Jan 14, 2014
Slab City
Pessimism: So this journalist alerted the authorities by calling and asking about it. How nice.

It's an awesome place to sleep though


Apr 19, 2016
New mexico
Every time there is an article on a 'secret sleeping spot' they shit it right down. Like with Manhattan bridge etc. so think there is no more hammocking in Central Park

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