Constructed just five years after John Lennon’s tragic death, Strawberry Fields quickly became a well-known pop-culture pilgrimage site that, for many years, was presided over and decorated by one dedicated super-fan.
Situated across the street from the Dakota, the building in which John Lennon lived and was killed, Strawberry Fields is a 2.5 acre chunk of Central Park focused around a mosaic with a single, powerful word in its center; imagine. During his career with the Beatles, Lennon inspired many, and since 1985 people have flocked to pay homage to the fallen music hero.
One man took it upon himself to act as the keeper of Lennon’s legacy at the memorial. Gary dos Santos was well-known around New York City and was a fixture at Strawberry Fields. The self-proclaimed mayor of Strawberry Fields began hanging out near the memorial in the mid-1990s and never left after John Lennon told him in a dream to keep maintaining the memorial.
Dos Santos made a living off of tips from tourists who paid him what they could after a deliverance of a short monologue on Central Park, John Lennon, and peace. Besides his work as tour guide, dos Santos also contributed his own sort of artwork to the memorial, and regularly laid out flowers in the form of a peace sign over the mosaic in dedication of John Lennon.
While dos Santos passed away in November 2013 from complications from leukemia, he will always be remembered as an integral figure to Strawberry Fields and an important fixture to Central Park itself through his dedication and beautiful adornments to the memorial.