Central Park certainly needs no introduction. It is the most important of the parks in New York and probably the most famous in the world. Despite the multitude of tourists crowding it daily, the vastness of the green area is such as to allow it to nestle in one of the countless solitary corners at any time of the year or time of day.
Weather permitting, the ideal way to go for a walk through the 843 acri of the lush city oasis is definitely the bike; with this easy transport you will be able, in less than a day, to appreciate in complete safety the many extraordinary places offered by the green lung of the city. As a starting point, and, to fully develop the itinerary recommended below, look for a bike rental in the Broadway area at 50th Street, in the middle of the Theater District and near the large park.
- Do you want to know more about this beautiful park? Read our complete guide to Central Park.
PS: We have made a free ebook dedicated to the most famous film locations in New York. You can find it at This Page.
- Route map
- Departure from the Theater District
- How I met your mother, Léon e Green Book
- The Legend of the Fisher King and the Gapstow Bridge Scenes
- Love Story, Limitless e Madagascar
- A rainy day in New York, Wall Street and the Fisher King
- Films shot in The Mall
- Harry, meet Sally, Highlander, Spiderman 3 etc ...
- Remember me, The Marathon Runner, Sliver and The Girl on the Train
Departure from the Theater District
With a little patience, given the more or less long queue depending on the time of day, you could enjoy a rich American breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs and crispy bacon at the famous (1) Ellen’s Stardust Diner, at 1650 Broadway. This place has been frequented by celebrities linked above all to the world of musicals but also, more generally, from all over the world of entertainment.
While enjoying your food, you might be easily surprised to see one or more waiters stand up at a table and sing a famous aria from a famous Broadway show. Indeed, the property is proud to point out that:
“Ellen's Stardust Diner is considered a breeding ground for singers. Ellen's former staff members are known to star in nearly every Broadway and off-Broadway musical such as Avenue Q, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, South Pacific, In The Heights, On The Town, Wicked and Godspell. "
The venue, truly one of a kind, appears in a scene from the ensemble film "New Year's Eve in New York"(2011) by Garry Marshall; Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker), right in the tormented New Year's Eve, sits at one of the many tables in the company of her fifteen-year-old daughter Hailey (Abigail Breslin) on the run from a mother who is a bit too oppressive.
In '(2) Ed Sullivan Theatre, at number 1697 of the Broadway, the episodes of the famous were recorded from 1993 to 2015 Late Show with David Letterman. The popular format, which continues today with Stephen Colbert at the helm, represents an authentic television institution and, especially in the period of David Letterman, has also depopulated beyond the American borders.
On more than one occasion the stage of the theater, together with the fame of the shows it has hosted, has appeared in many films; over all: "Taxi Driver"(1976),"Man on the Moon"(1999) and"The Doors"(1991). In Martin Scorsese's gory film, Robert De Niro (aka Travis Bickle) calls charming Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) from a phone booth right at the entrance to the theater's unadorned interior corridor. That was the last time the troubled protagonist was able to talk to Betsie on the phone, because, as he himself states:
“I tried many times to call her, but then she didn't even come on the phone anymore. I sent her some flowers, but they brought them all back home. The smell of the flowers made me nauseous, and the headache tortured me… I felt like I had stomach cancer. I shouldn't have complained though, health is something that depends on how you feel: the more you think you feel bad, the more you feel bad. "
In Oliver Stone's controversial biographical work, "The Doors”(1991), the famous 1967 performance of the homonymous group is re-proposed at the Ed Sullivan Show, a television show that aired from '48 to '71, in the same theater. The performance went down in history because CBS, the broadcaster of the show, tried to censor the song Light my fire, asking to change a phrase (“Girl, we couldn't get much higher”) as a possible reference to drugs. Jim Morrison, soloist and soul of the band, kept the original text unaltered causing forever the ban of the group from the most popular program of those years.
Playing himself, David Letterman appears in a scene of "Man on the Moon”(1999) in the company of Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman. This sequence represents the repetition of the famous and surreal appearance of the late comedian in the Late Show of 1982 during which he was interviewed by a younger Letterman.
The funny and minute Kaufman engages in an argument with the mighty wrestler Jerry Lawler (who also plays himself in the film) guilty of having mistreated him during an unequal wrestling match a few months earlier. The fight ends with repeated obscene insults (for the TV) and a shower of coffee by the bewildered Kaufman towards the incredulous athlete. While the comedian, to avoid further guaranteed blows, runs away from the television studios, David Letterman elegantly concludes by saying:
"I think you can use some of those words on television, but for sure what you can't do is throw some coffee!"
Commander Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) also participates in the Late Show along with all the staff of the unfortunate US Airways flight 1549 in the film “Sully"(2016) to tell the fortuitous landing on the Hudson River.
How I met your mother, Léon e Green Book
At 240 55th Street, you can visit the (3) McGee’s pub, which inspired the famous MacLaren's of the TV series "How I Met Your Mother", Broadcast for nine seasons from 2005 to 2014.
Going in the direction of Central Park, on 7th Avenue, between 55th and 56th, looking back you might see the Spanish killer behind you (4) Leon (Jean Reno) proceed at a brisk pace in the company of the young orphan Mathilda (Natalie Portman), her inseparable houseplant and… the tools of the trade. A frame from the sequence was used as a poster for the poster of the homonymous film Léon (1994), an absolute masterpiece by the French director Luc Besson.
Still on 7th Avenue, at number 881, there is one of the most important concert halls of classical and light music in New York: the (5) Carnegie Hall. This legendary music hall enjoys excellent acoustics and constantly alternates musical genres ranging from jazz to opera. In addition to little Kevin Mcallister (Macouley Kulkin), in "Mom I flew the plane: I got lost in New York"(1992), who takes refuge in the attic of the theater from which he can admire and listen to the opera without paying the ticket, the arena also appears in the recent and award-winning"Green Book”(2018), winner of the Oscar for best film.
Carnegie Hall is filmed in the opening scenes of the film when Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) goes to interview pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali). The latter, playing the role of the great black composer, was also awarded the Oscar for best supporting actor.
The sequence filmed inside was actually filmed in a New Orleans theater. What appears as the final result is the result of the application of special effects thanks to which the royal gallery behind the protagonist is replaced by the more imposing one in Carnegie Hall.
The Legend of the Fisher King and the Gapstow Bridge Scenes
After traveling the suggested route, finally enter Central Park using the access of the 6th Avenue. The entrance enters what is called Central Drive, a road with a carriageway that insinuates itself as a service corridor in the green lung. The natural oasis is described on the Central Park Conservancy website as:
“The quintessence of the New York experience; New York City's lush refuge from the stresses of city life and a living masterpiece. ”.
Shortly after entering, you will see in front of you, on the left, a series of (6) rock formations. Although it is true that the park is artificial, the rocks are absolutely authentic and many of the outcrops have been shaped by ice over the centuries. Have fun looking for the exact boulder on which the late Robin Williams, in the role of Henry Sagan "Parry", "The legend of the fisher king”(1991), and Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) catch their breath after frantically chasing the fantastic“ Red Knight ”for a long way in that area of the park. After waiting for Jack at the top of the rock, Perry asks, "But isn't it a beautiful place here?"
Then head to the (7) Gapstow Bridge, stone bridge in the southern area of the park that crosses a narrowing of the The Pond, one of the largest ponds in Central Park. In addition to its aesthetic beauty and privileged position, this place owes part of its notoriety to the film “Mum I replayed the plane: I got lost in New York” (1992). Here, the first meeting takes place between the small and frightened Kevin Mcallister (Macouley Kulkin) and the frightening "Lady of the Pigeons" (Brenda Fricker).
The bridge designed by Jacob Wrey Mold in 1874 also appears in the hilarious comedy "Weekend with the dead"(1989); in the scene where the tireless New York workers Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) hurry through this icon of the park, you can appreciate the amazing panoramic views over the majestic buildings of the city.
Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) is also immortalized in the same position while walking in the park in the Thriller "The Girl on the train”(2016), film adaptation of the 2015 novel of the same name written by Paula Hawkins.
Love Story, Limitless e Madagascar
If you happen to be in New York during one of the winter months, you cannot escape an unforgettable ice skating on the (8) Wollman Rink. This track, which has been set up since 1949, has often appeared in Hollywood productions; in the poignant "Love Story”(1972), protagonist Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O'Neal) is tenderly observed by partner Jennifer Cavalleri (Ali MacGraw) as he skates skillfully to the tune of Francis Lai's award-winning score. In the next sequence, the couple take refuge in the cafeteria adjacent to the arena to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.
In the science fiction film "Limitless"(2011), a prolonged sequence shows Lindy (Abbie Cornish) attempting to escape from the clutches of the villain on duty, who tries to capture her to gain possession of a bag containing an abundant number of revolutionary tablets capable of increasing immeasurably the intellectual properties.
Not far from the Wollman Rink, stands the (9) Central Park Zoo, Manhattan's answer to the famous and immense Bronx Zoo. In the animated film "Madagascar”(2005) the lion Alex is the main attraction of the New York Zoo; the big star who entertains crowds of kids every day who flock to observe the King of the urban jungle up close.
Alex lives with the inseparable Marty, the zebra, Melman, the giraffe, and Gloria, the hippo; he and his best friends have always lived among the wrought iron and red brick enclosures, abundantly fed by the copious food and infinite affection provided by the zookeepers and attendants.
A rainy day in New York, Wall Street and the Fisher King
The entrance to the famous New York attraction is adorned with the famous (10) Delacorte Clock, mounted on a three-level tower. The art installation, which houses a carousel of animal statues playing various instruments, appears in "A rainy day in New York”(2019), comedy directed by Woody Allen. Right under the arch overlooking the clock, young Gatsby Welles (Timothée Chalamet) has an appointment with the newfound Shannon Tyrell (Selena Gomez) in a humid and romantic scene from the film.
In the large lawn of (11) Sheep Meadow, the most vibrant scene of Oliver Stone's 1987 masterpiece was shot "Wall Street". The figure of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) has become, from the release of the film onwards, the archetype of the ruthless shark that dominates the ocean of high finance ...:
“Greed, I can't find a better word, is valid, greed is right, greed works, greed clarifies, penetrates and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all its forms: greed for life, for love, for knowledge, for money, has marked the forward momentum of all humanity. "
Gordon Gekko and ambitious protagonist Buddy Fox (Charlie Sheen) meet on the grass of Sheep Meadow to settle some differences. The appointment is at dawn, because: "Money never sleeps."
In this same place we find again Parry (Robin Williams) and Jack (Jeff Bridges) in a sequence of "The legend of the fisher King"(1991). The nutty homeless man suddenly undresses and lies down on his back on the grass to play the "cloud-breaker" game (breaking up the clouds with the power of thought alone ...). Jack, after having tried in vain to discourage his new friend at least from getting naked in Central Park in the middle of the night, decides to indulge him by participating in that bizarre game.
After long minutes of nothing happening to the clouds in the sky, Parry entertains his companion by telling him the legend of the Fisher King:
"(...) He begins with the king as a boy, who had to spend the night in the forest to prove his courage and become king, and while he spends the night alone he is visited by a sacred vision: in the campfire the Holy Grail appears to him, symbol of divine grace. (...) ".
Films shot in The Mall
After having rested pleasantly on the large and well-kept lawn bordered by a luxuriant bush, move on to the most famous pedestrian street in Central Park: (12) The Mall. We can safely define this trait as its main course. The cinematographic universe has often proposed the long tree-lined avenue in some scenes of well-known films, such as, for example, "Vanilla Sky"(2001),"Kramer versus Kramer"(1979),"This must be the place"(2011) and"The Smurfs"(2011).
David Aames (Tom Cruise), between dream and reality, finds himself embraced by his Sofia Serrano (Penelope Cruz) on an autumn afternoon when the yellow leaves of the trees completely cover the famous avenue. The protagonist understands at that juncture that he is in the midst of an indecipherable nightmare:
“My dreams are a cruel joke, they mock me, even in my dreams I am an idiot who knows he is about to wake up in reality. If only I could avoid sleeping, but I can't. I try to tell myself what to dream, I try to dream of flying, something liberating, it never works. ".
In "Kramer vs. Kramer"(1979), the protagonist Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman), often frequents Central Park with his little son Billy (Justin Henry): rebuilt his life after the painful separation from his wife Joanna (Meryl Streep), the parent's priorities are completely upset:
“(…) The child has a home with me, I did it as best I could, it's not perfect; I'm not a perfect parent, and sometimes I don't have patience and… and I forget that he's a kid… but I'm there. I get up in the morning, we have breakfast, I take him to school, I come home in the evening, we eat, we talk, I read to him ... we have built a life together ".
Right along the central street, little Billy hardly learns to ride a bicycle, spurred on and supported by his father.
Those who, on the other hand, should review their pace, is an unfortunate skater who falls tumbling to the ground under the astonished and sly eyes of the former pop-star Cheyenne / John Smith (Sean Penn) in the film directed by Paolo Sorrentino "This must be the place"(2011). Sitting on the particular wooden benches, after the thunderous crash, he would seem to think: “Something disturbed me, I don't know what, but something disturbed me”.
The legendary Magician Gargamel (Hank Azaria) sits disconsolately and sadly on the same benches in the film "The Smurfs"(2011). However, after discovering that the medieval magic workshop can also be reproduced in the dungeons of (17) Belvedere Castle, his soul returns to reassure itself and his greed for Smurfs reinvigorates. The castle is also the scene of the final battle between the sorcerer and the army of the strange and little blue friends.
Harry, meet Sally, Highlander, Spiderman 3 etc ...
Going north along the green course, you arrive at the (13) Bethesda Terrace. This large structure consists of an upper and a lower passage, joined by two large stairways. In the large open space facing the stairways stands the fountain adorned with a statue depicting the "Angel of the water". It goes without saying that this terrace has been immortalized in an infinity of cinematic sequences. Among the most emblematic, the meeting between Mr. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki) and four men of ill repute in the action movie "John Wick"(2014) and the morning jog of Harry (Billy Crystal) and Jess (Bruno Kirby) in the famous"Harry, this is Sally"(1989).
even the (14) Bow Bridge is one of the most photographed and filmed locations in Central Park. The bridge connects two shores of the serpentine lake called The Lake. Connor Macleod (Christopher Lambert), in "Higlander”(1986), choose this bridge to meet up with old and faithful friend Sunda Kastagir (Hugh Quarshie) who is also endowed with the same powers as the legendary protagonist. The two, not seeing each other for centuries, take advantage of the meeting for a toast.
In "A love of witness"(2008), Tom (Patrick Dempsey) stands on the ledge of the bridge pretending to want to jump in front of the eyes of the platonic friend Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) while, in"Spiderman 3”(2008), Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) meets his beloved Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) perhaps for the last time.
Nautical walks near the bridge in "Manhattan"(1979) and"Autumn in New York"(2000): in the first, Isac Davis (Woody Allen) walks Mary Wilkie (Diane Keaton), while, in the second, Will Keane (Richard Gere), from above the bridge, meets Charlotte's gaze for the first time Fielding (Winona Ryder), rowing alone in the pond below him.
On another side of The Lake is the famous restaurant (15) The Loeb Boathouse, in which, in "Harry, this is Sally”(1989), sequences were shot where Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) has lunch with her closest friends. During the conversation Sally reveals that she broke up with her boyfriend that she had been dating for five years, because: "I said to myself: you deserve better ... you are only 31 years old and the years begin to fly only after 36!"
The restaurant writes about itself:
“A haven for romantics and nature lovers, this understated icon offers a rare tranquility in the ever-eclectic energy that defines Manhattan. True to its name, rowboats sail on the adjacent lake, as they have done for over 150 years. "
Remember me, The Marathon Runner, Sliver and The Girl on the Train
Not far from the Loeb Boathouse, is the statue (16) Alice in Wonderland, which appears in the 2010 romantic comedy "Remember me”, Whose protagonist is the New York rebel Tyler (Robert Pattinson). Located just north of the Conservatory Water, near 74th Street, the bronze sculpture depicts Alice together with the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit and some other protagonists of the famous Lewis Carrol novel.
Heading to Central Park's largest body of water, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, crosses the very famous (18) Shuman Running Track, a path that runs along the lake and is used by New York runners. Right along this stretch, in view of the New York marathon, Thomas Babington "Babe" Levy (Dustin Hoffman) trains in the thriller "The Marathon Runner"(1976).
Neither "The Devil's Advocate”(1997), experienced attorney Eddie Barzoon (Jeffrey Jones), who has been offering his services to the diabolical John Milton (Al Pacino) for years, is attacked by two homeless people while running the Pathway.
The scrupulously controlled building in which Carly Norris (Sharon Stone) lives in the thriller "Sliver”(1993) is located on the Upper East Side, a stone's throw from Central Park. The publisher then goes to the city oasis to run. In one scene, Sharon Stone passes under the (19) Reservoir Bridge, a Gothic-style bridge near the north bank of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.
This green itinerary ends with the (20) Conservatory Garden, at 105th Street (near Harlem); the garden: “offers respite from adjacent Fifth Avenue and its vibrant Museum Mile, offering a taste of the European countryside in the heart of Manhattan”.
In this botanical garden, divided into three distinct sections according to the European style (French, Spanish or English), Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) likes to reflect in "The train girl"(2016). The twisted and enigmatic protagonist sits exactly opposite the Fontana Untermyer, whose sculpture depicts three dancing girls.Read all the other cinematic itineraries