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New York's Top 10 : Central Park

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New York’s “backyard,” an 843-acre swathe of green, provides recreation and beauty for over two million visitors each year. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1858, the park took 16 years to create and involved the planting of over 500,000 trees and shrubs, the hauling in of vast amounts of stone and earth to form hills, lakes, and meadows, and the building of 30 stone-and-iron bridges and arches.

  • From Central Park South to 110th St & between 5th Ave and Central Park West.

  • www.centralparknyc.org

  • Open dawn–dusk


Creating Central Park

Central Park was the first landscaping project for Frederick Law Olmsted, who was already 43 years old. Rejecting the usual formal plantings, he created passages of contrasting scenery, calm and pastoral against the rugged and picturesque. Areas for active and passive recreation were separated, and dense raised plantings shut out the surrounding city. The park brought Olmsted high praise and set a pattern for landscapes that followed. He went on to become America’s most prolific designer of parks.


The Beresford apartments on Central Park West

Refreshments and light lunches are available at the Boat House snack bar; The Boat House restaurant serves gourmet meals.


Make your first stop The Dairy, a Victorian Gothic building housing the Visitor Center. Ask about the free nature workshops and guided walks.


Rent bicycles, rowboats, and gondolas from the Boathouse, and skates at the Wollman Rink.


The Visitor Center is open 10am–5pm Tue–Sun, and can be contacted on: 212 794 6564




Top 10 Features
  1. Great Lawn

    This is a 13-acre oval of green lawn. In summer, free concerts by the Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic draw as many as 100,000 people.

  2. Bethesda Terrace

    Overlooking the lake and Ramble, the ornate terrace and its fountain are the focal point of the park. On the adjacent tree-lined Mall inline skaters often show off acrobatic stunts.

  3. Belvedere Castle

    A 19th-century stone castle atop a rock, complete with towers and turrets, offers peerless views in all directions. Inside is the Henry Luce Nature Observatory with exhibits covering the surprisingly diverse wildlife found in the park.

  4. The Ramble

    This wooded 37 acres of land is crisscrossed by paths and streams and is a paradise for bird-watchers. Over 270 species have been spotted in Central Park, which is on the Atlantic migration flyway.

  5. Reservoir

    The 106-acre lake is rimmed by a 1.6-mile (5-km) running track used by joggers. It is the largest of the park’s five lakes and ponds, which include Conservatory Water, where model boat races are held each Saturday.

  6. Strawberry Fields

    This peaceful garden area was created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon, who lived in the nearby Dakota apartments. Gifts for the memorial came from all over the world.

  7. Conservatory Garden

    An elegant 6-acre formal garden with fountains and beautiful displays of flowering trees, bulbs, annuals, and perennials is at its best in the spring, when crab-apples, tulips, and azaleas are in bloom.

  8. Hans Christian Andersen Statue

    Children’s storytelling sessions are held here in the summer. Other activities for youngsters include nature workshops, a vintage carousel, and a marionette theater.

  9. Central Park Zoo

    This conservation center and children’s zoo has three climate zones. The space features a rainforest and over 100 species, including seals, monkeys, and penguins.

  10. Delacorte Theater

    The New York Public Theater presents two “Shakespeare in the Park” productions in July and August. Free tickets are available on the day, but get in line early. Other free park entertainment includes a Summer Stage series of popular music and dance.

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