Central Park

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references


  • Where it is
  • What to see in Central Park
  • To do
  • When to go
  • The park with children
  • How long does it take to visit
  • A bit of history
  • Hotel with park view

Central Park it is the urban park largest in the borough of Manhattan and, probably, also the most famous in the world.

Defined as "the green lung of the Big Apple", it is loved and frequented by New Yorkers and VIPs, but not only. It is also a must for tourists, happy to walk in the immense park seen in so many films and TV series!

Spacious, welcoming, full of things to see and do: Central Park does not disappoint and puts everyone at ease.

Where it is

It begins in Midtown Manhattan and ends in the area of Uptown, between the two residential districts of the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side, which take their name from their position in relation to the park.

Central Park it develops between 59th and 110th Avenues, and Streets from XNUMX to XNUMX - going north - for more than 3 square kilometers.

On the map it is very easy to spot, thanks to its size and rectangular shape, which stands out in the center of every map of Manhattan! Found?

How to reach us

Many metro stops are located near the large park:

  • 59th Street / Columbus Circle (lines 1, 2, A, B, C and D pass here)
  • 72 Street/Central Park West (linee A, B, C)
  • 81 Street/Museum of Natural History (linee A, B, C)
  • 86 Street/Central Park West (linee A, B, C)
  • 96 Street/Central Park West (linee A, B, C)
  • 103 Street/Central Park West (linee A, B, C)
  • Cathedral Pkwy/110 Street (linee B, C)
  • Central Park North/100 Street (linee 2, 3)
  • 103 Street/Lexington (linea 6)
  • 96 Street/Lexington (linea 6)
  • 86 Street/Lexington (linee 4, 5, 6)
  • 5th Avenue/59 Street (linee N, R, W)

Which one to choose? It depends on where you intend to start your walk.

The first stop to visit Central Park could be Strawberry Fields, between 72nd street and Central Park West (opposite the Dakota Building). In this case, the perfect stop is 72 Street / Central Park West.

Here you can find useful information on the New York subway.

What to see in Central Park

Strawberry Fields Memorial

Quest 'area of ​​10.000 square meters, inaugurated in 1985, is located west of the park at 72nd street and is dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, killed in 1980 in front of the nearby Dakota Building.

A peaceful corner, despite the number of people who crowd it: Beatles fans, more or less talented musicians and just curious.

The most characteristic point is represented by the mosaic with the central inscription “Imagine”, on which flowers are placed every day.

The work is Made in Italy! It is in fact the reproduction of a Pompeian mosaic, made by Spanish artisans and donated by the Municipality of Naples to the city of New York.

Swedish Cottage Marionette

This puppet theater is a log cabin in the typical Swedish style, which has been in Central Park since 1877 and has become an integral part of it.

Since 1947 it has been the permanent home of a renowned puppet company, which operates by representing classic fairy tales, sometimes revisited in an extravagant and humorous key.

The shows - in English - are appreciated by adults and children, fascinated by the movement of the characters. The puppeteers at the end of the show show the spectators how a puppet can be moved!

Are you curious? On the official website of the theater you can check if there will be a show to see on the dates you are in New York.

Belvedere Castle

The name reveals its virtues! The Belvedere Castlethe Belvedere Castle, it is in fact an exceptional vantage point to admire Central Park, Manhattan, and take some souvenir photos.

The small castle was built in the XNUMXth century on one of Central Park's oldest natural rocks: the top of Vista Rock, an outcrop of shales dating back hundreds of thousands of years.

The original architectural style of the small castle it mixes the Gothic and the Romanesque styles: viewed from the outside it may therefore seem like a successful hybrid.

The interiors are no less interesting: in fact, there are several exhibition rooms, an observatory, and since 1919 the National Meteorological Service has carried out its measurements here.

Inside the castle you will find monitors showing images dedicated to science and nature, microscopes and animal skeletons. In short, everything you need to thrill especially the youngest visitors.

The building is also used as a set for shooting movie scenes (Dracula and the Smurfs, for example) and regularly hosts free events related to astronomy and entertainment.

It is located in 79th street, in the center of the park, near the small lake called “Turtle Pond” because it is populated by numerous turtles.

Bow Bridge

This cast iron arched pedestrian bridge, completed in 1862, is located on Central Park's artificial pond “The Lake” and in the vicinity of Bethesda Terrace.

Perfectly inserted within the natural context, it has an elegant appearance. Also thanks to the intertwined circles that decorate the railing and the intricate arabesques that can be seen under the arch.

The bridge is a romantic place (excellent location for declarations of love and marriage proposals), and we may have already seen it in sentimental films like Autumn in New York and Temptations of Love.

Many consider it, by far, the most beautiful of Central Park's seven cast iron bridges.

The best time to go through it? Nightfall. If you can also choose the season, go there in the fall.

Bethesda Terrace e Fountain

The famous Terrace, which we have already seen (guess what) in many movies, is located right in the center of the park, near 72nd street.

It offers a beautiful view over much of Central Park and its famous fountain, la Bethesda Fountain.

The arched structure of the terrace has magnificent limestone decorations and the covered part is decorated with frescoed panels.

Many newlyweds love to be photographed in these parts, and the steps are often the “theater” of street artists, especially musicians who appreciate their good acoustics.

The fountain is one of the most famous in the world, also known as the “Angel of the Waters”, in reference to its fascinating neoclassical sculpture.

It is a bronze angel with outstretched wings; to keep him company, four cherubs, symbols of health, purity, temperance, peace.

As a tourist, you can't help but notice how the Bethesda Terrace attracts the diverse New Yorkers: you will see people in formal, casual, alternative clothing, and you will gladly mingle with the people of the inhabitants of the Big Apple on a break!

The Loeb Boathouse

The Loeb Boathouse is a pleasant place where you can rent rowing boats - very popular at sunset - Venetian gondolas (if you don't feel like rowing yourself!), Bikes, or where you can simply relax and watch the lake and eat a snack.

Also popular with bird watchers, it is located on the opposite side of Bethesda Fountain, between 74th and 75th streets.

There is also an upscale restaurant here, The Loeb Boathouse at Central Park, open from April to November, which many remember from seeing it in the Sex and The City series.

The Mall

The Mall is a tree-lined avenue that runs through the center of the park from 66th to 72nd street.
On your way you will encounter more than 150 American elms - once common and now very rare trees - and numerous statues of characters from the past.
You can take the Literary Walk at the southern end, stopping by statues of literary figures such as William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. There are 29 in all.

To liven up The Mall there is no shortage of street artists, skaters, skateboarders and stalls selling souvenirs.

A curiosity: the width of The Mall was specially designed to accommodate the passage of carriages.

The Statue of Balto

The statue of an animal can intrigue more than that of a man, and that of the Balto dog, to which a Disney film was also dedicated, is a must for anyone who goes to Central Park.

The Siberian Husky Balto really lived and, together with other dogs, made the “serum race” in 1925.

In the small town of Nome, Alaska, a terrible epidemic of diphtheria had broken out, and there was no antitoxin needed to treat all those affected.

At least a million doses were needed, and Nome had been quarantined.
The closest reserves were in Anchorage, about 1500 miles away and not directly connected to Nome. The railway reached a location these 1000 km away from the town, and where airplanes and ships could not arrive due to adverse weather conditions.

It was therefore decided to organize a courageous relay race with sled dogs that were normally used to transport mail.
As many as 19 packs of dogs made up the relay which, making several stretches on the ice and amidst a thousand dangers, managed to cover the entire distance.

The last stretch was covered by Balto, who was therefore the first dog to arrive in Nome!

The statue celebrating Balto and the other heroic dogs is greeted daily by adults and children passing through Central Park. The caresses are concentrated above all on the muzzle and nose, which in fact appear worn out.

Central Park Zoo

In this zoo, which you will love even if you are on vacation without the children, you can see many animals, obviously “little New Yorkers”: lions, monkeys, polar bears, penguins, tropical birds.

There are more than 130 different species in all, which live in the different natural habitats well reconstructed in the structure.

If you have seen the Madagascar cartoon, you will surely remember that it was also set in this zoo.

There is also an area tailored for the little ones, the children's zoo, where you can pet free animals such as goats, sheep, rabbits, and see chubby cows and pigs up close.

The zoo is located on the east side, between 63rd and 66th streets.

Shakespeare garden

This garden, located in the west between 79th and 80th streets, is home to several varieties of flowers and plants that Shakespeare spoke of in his plays.

Look for the blackberry tree! This appears to have grown from grafting a tree planted by the playwright himself in 1602.

The garden is close to the Delacorte Theater, where Shakespeare's plays are performed in the warm season (May-August).

To do

Walk in freedom

The easiest thing to do in Central Park!

It will always give you great satisfaction and will be a precious moment to ease your hectic "tourist pace" of the Big Apple.

Sit on the benches (and read the placards)

There is always a big bustle on Central Park benches!

People who sit down to read a book, rest, listen to music. When you arrive at the park, at a certain point you too will find the right bench.

And, given that the benches are personalized with tags bearing names, wishes, phrases, read a few. You will discover or imagine interesting stories.

Observe squirrels and other animals

There is no question about the sympathy of squirrels, so as soon as you see one, it will come naturally to you:

  • follow it with your eyes
  • photograph it
  • envy his agility

These rodents are in good company: in the park you will see fish, frogs, dragonflies and many birds, including the famous red-tailed hawk.

Take a guided walking tour

Being accompanied by someone who knows the park like the back of his hand is a big plus!

Do you speak and understand English? We recommend a two-hour tour. You will meet your guide at the Dakota Building and then go together to discover the most beautiful areas of Central Park.

Book the guided walking tour

Rent a bike

The bike is an excellent means of transport to explore any park: even more so the huge Central Park! Alone, or in company, you will have fun, just for a few hours, or for the whole day.

Book the bike

Guided tours (in English) are also available by bike.

Book the guided bike tour


An alternative to the bicycle, nice and suitable for the lazy (since there will be a person to ride in your place!).

Book the rickshaw

In carriage

A ride on an old-fashioned means of transport always has its charm. The horse-drawn carriage can accommodate up to 4 "passengers".

Book the carriage


The park makes you hungry; you will want to have a simple snack on the go, sit in a real restaurant or have a picnic in joy, spreading a towel on the lawn.

Give in to this temptation willingly, bearing in mind that any squirrels encountered along the way may ask for their share.

Attend shows and events

In the summer, CityParks SummerStage takes place in Central Park and many other parks, the most important outdoor performing arts festival in all of New York. The shows - concerts, readings, theater and dance productions - are for the most part free.

Or, you can see Shakespeare's plays performed at the Delacorte Theater, between May and August.

Ice skating or ice hockey

During the cold season (in a period that varies from year to year, between October and April), the Wollman Rink ice rink is set up in the southern part of Central Park. It first opened in 1949, and has welcomed many skaters since then. Fun is guaranteed, including stunts and tumbles.

There is also a skating school, for those who want to improve their technique, ice hockey can be practiced and equipment can be rented.

For the more experienced, in the northern part of Central Park, between 106th and 108th streets there is another rink, Lasker Rink, where you can skate or play hockey.

Cool off in the pool

In summer, the Lasker Rink is used as a swimming pool.

Do you like the idea of ​​a dip in Central Park? Then go there and take a padlock with you, which is essential because it is mandatory to leave your belongings in a locker.

When to go

In any season, the park has its irresistible charm:

  • in spring time you can take wonderful walks and picnics
  • in the summer there are numerous concerts and events, and it is nice to linger under the shade of the trees
  • in autumn you are enchanted to admire the reddish colors of the leaves that are changing color (the foliage)
  • in winter you can skate and when it snows the park seems enchanted

Central Park is open from 6 am to 365 am, XNUMX days a year: generous from this point of view too!

The park with children

Central Park offers a thousand opportunities for fun for the little ones, for free and for a fee.

Time will fly by picnic, Corsican to be the envy of the best runners in New York, snacks, squirrel chasesi, bike rides, puppet shows and also summer rides!

When the Wollman Rink ice rink is closed, in fact, the Victoria Gardens amusement park takes over, which children love (even if it is quite expensive).

Usually, the little ones like the park so much that they want to come back a second time before the end of the holidays!

How long does it take to visit

They would want it some days to visit the park properly, but also a "taste" of a few hours will give you great satisfaction.

What if, rather than strolling in relaxation without a particular destination, you want to see as much of Central Park as possible? To optimize the times, you could

  • create in advance your personal itinerary to follow, including what interests you most. From this page of the park's official website you can download useful maps.
  • instead of exploring the park on foot, speed up your time by renting a bicycle for a few hours or all day.

A bit of history

By the mid-nineteenth century, New York City and its population grew rapidly.

Citizens felt the need to have a large park all to themselves, a quiet place to get away from the chaos of the city (and today we can say that the goal has been very well achieved).

Central Park was conceived in 1857 by two landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and the construction was started that same year, in an area where - incredible, if you think about it today - before there were only shacks, quarries and animal husbandry.

In 1858 the first part of Central Park was opened to the public, the size of which was expanded over time, reaching the current one in 1873.

After experiencing some periods of decline, several areas of the park were renovated in the 80s and 90s.

Since 1980 there has been a non-profit organization that takes care of "him": the Central Park Conservancy.

Hotel with park view

Want to indulge yourself by staying in a hotel overlooking Central Park, without worrying too much about the price? We suggest these structures:

  • Four Season Hotel New York. Its studios and suites offer panoramic views of the city and / or Central Park;
  • Parker New York. The floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the park;
  • Courtyard by Marriott New York Manhattan / Central Park. This hotel has some rooms facing Central Park (others overlooking Times Square or the Hudson; not bad!).

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