When it comes to “Pokémon GO,” Central Park never lets me down.
I’ve been out of the city for a week covering Comic-Con and I’ve gotten kind of behind on my Poké game. (I’ve been a level 19 for a week!) So before calling it a night Wednesday, I did what any self-respecting Pokémon trainer in New York City does — I headed to Grand Army Plaza. And boy did it pay off.
If you’re not familiar, Grand Army Plaza, which is located at the southeast entrance to Central Park, is one of the hottest places to play “Pokémon GO” in the city. (We even caught Justin Bieber there.) Hundreds of people swarm there each night, equipped with chargers and battery packs.
Cars pull over in the plaza circle to catch ’em all. It’s become so popular since the game’s launch that a series of food carts are now permanently parked around all four sides of the plaza.
I was there less than 10 minutes and it happened. One by one, people started getting up and disappearing across the street in pursuit of something. OK. No big deal. But then the crowd started getting bigger. People didn’t care if they were crossing the street while the adjacent light was green.
I’ve been there enough times to know that when this happens, there’s a good Pokémon around. We’re not talking Jigglypuffs and Gravelers. I had no idea what I was in for, but I decided to trust the crowd and follow along. I was not disappointed.
There was no widespread panic or people making a mad dash to get the Pokémon like in some of those viral videos you may have seen online.
The majority of the crowd marched eagerly from one crowded spot to another.
As the crowd paraded down 59th, I looked down into the park and was surprised to see there was another throng of Poké people marching parallel to us on their way to the Pokémon of the hour as well. It was nuts.
As I soon learned, a few blocks down 59th street was a Chansey, a cute pink Pokémon that would often accompany Nurse Joy in the animated “Pokémon” series.
Here’s what the crowd looked like trying to capture the Pokémon on 59th at Central Park’s Center Drive:
And a few feet below, inside the park, this was the scene:
Before “Pokémon GO,” you would never see anything like this after 10 p.m. on a Wednesday evening, with dozens of people glued to their phone. Now, this is probably common for any night in NYC.
When we finally made it to the holy grail (aka Chansey), I took the one Razz Berry I saved up from the day and used a Great Ball to capture that Chansey in no time.
It felt good to get something new after I was spoiled in San Diego the past week with a plethora of Machop, Growlithe, and other Pokémon that are uncommon out here.
I also heard talk of an Arcanine (the evolution of Growlithe) in the area, but must have missed him. (Next time, pup!)
Now that the game’s been out for a few weeks and people are doubling up on a lot of the common Pokémon, it looks like people are taking to the Pokévision app to find the Pokémon they’re missing.
If you’re not familiar, Pokévision is a website which shows exactly where Pokémon are currently spawning on a real-time map. It seemed like a lot of people were using it at Central Park on Wednesday.
If you’re playing “Pokémon GO” and are trying to fill up your Pokédex, this is definitely one way to spend an evening or a day over the weekend.
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