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Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962, is a rather famous photo by Diane Arbus:

Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962

I came across this photo while reading about the background to the song "Teach Your Children," written by Graham Nash and recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. A quote from Nash's autobiography is included under the lyrics on Genius.com (emphasis added):

The origin of the song came from my recent infatuation with art. I had begun collecting photographs around that time, powerful images that had an emotional effect on me. One, in particular, was a Diane Arbus image of a boy in Central Park. It spoke volumes to me. The kid was only about nine or ten years old, but his expression bristled with intense anger. He had a plastic grenade clenched in a fist, but it seemed to me that if it were real the kid would have thrown it. The consequences it implied startled me. I thought, ‘If we don’t start teaching our kids a better way of dealing with each other, humanity will never succeed.’

Like Nash, I find that this photo is speaking volumes to me as well. I lived in NYC for several years and used to visit Central Park often to run and walk, and am trying to place this photo within the park, but unfortunately there aren't any recognizably landmarks that I can see here.

There are a few clues:

  • The path the boy is on appears paved
  • he's standing by an intersection or corner
  • The tree (which would be larger now, if it's still there) has two prominent trunks
  • There's a meadow or clearing behind the tree

I've spent a maddening amount of time on Google Street View but I'm still coming up blank.

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    Huh. I don't see any anger in the kid's face. More of a grimace to me. Maybe that's why I don't "get" art. </off-topic discussion about art not travel>
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 17:23

2 Answers 2

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After a week of research, This is the location. (The path and the 2 trees are gone btw)

40.772523,-73.967728comparison of old photos with current screen shots

This is why I think it is. There are 12 images on Arbus contact sheet from the photo shoot. In one picture you can clearly see a tree with a big branch to the left, that tree was still there in 2012 (Best: Streetview august 2012) (Move a little bit to the south to see it) June 2021 it's gone.

In 4 pictures the boy is standing by the playground. The playground is still there. (Best: streetview august 2012)

Other pictures: The place of the drinking fountain. The long benches on terrace dr.

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    I found a higher resolution of the picture and the contact sheet on a french photography site
    – mouviciel
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 7:39
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    I was skeptical at first, but I'm convinced. I see a couple of trees "with a branch to the left" but they're both still present in June 2021.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 10:41
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    In seeing more images of the kid in the contact sheet it sort of negates the quote from Graham Nash and the OP's feelings. That kid's anger may have been staged.
    – Peter M
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 14:35
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    June 2021: maps.app.goo.gl/yLAwma4tPjQBU2uh8
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 12:16
  • I was talking about a different tree, but now I can see what you mean. Thank you! Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 13:12
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Here’s a photo of the GPS location mentioned by Jacob, as of September 2023. Photo was taken by me, licensed as CC-BY.

enter image description here

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