It’s hot in New York right now and Central Park is a great place to get away from the heat of the city’s streets and enjoy some green open space. My visit to the park begins at the entrance at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue, just by the Met museum.
The tall Egyptian Obelisk is the oldest man made object in Central Park and the oldest outdoor monument in New York City, it’s one of a pair the other one on the Embankment in London. The granite monument is 69 feet tall and weighs in at 220 tons.
A little further on I come into the area of the Great Lawn a really nice spot for enjoying a picnic and some great views of the high rises beyond the park. Walking past the Delacorte outdoor theatre I come into the Shakespeare Garden a four acre landscape named after the famous English playwright. This pretty spot is planted with flowers and shrubs mentioned in his poems and plays.
At the top is the imposing Belvedere Castle, created by Calvert Vaux the miniature castle was built in 1869 and was intended as a look out to the reservoir to the north – now the Great Lawn – and the Ramble to the south. You can get some great views across the park and of the city skyline from here.
Leaving the castle I headed south and entered the Ramble, a meandering pathway through wooded terrain and a wonderfully quiet spot to loose yourself in.
The picturesque cast iron Bow Bridge is at the southern end of the Ramble and gives some great views across the lake.
Continuing along the northern perimeter of the lake I come across the Loeb Boathouse, a lovely restaurant that has a wonderful terrace overlooking the water. Expensive, yes, but a great place to spend a few hours having lunch.
The Bethesda Terrace is one of the parks most famous areas and is considered the heart of Central Park. In their original plan, park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux envisioned a sweeping promenade – The Mall – that led to a grand terrace overlooking the lake, this was the result.
From the plaza I go through the underpass with its magnificent and completely restored tile ceiling, it’s really worth stopping and taking a few minutes to admire it.
Having climbed the steps I’m now on The Mall, a beautiful elm lined promenade and one of the park’s most scenic pathways. Also known as Literary Walk it’s filled with several statues of important historical figures.
At the end of The Mall is the statue of Christopher Columbus and beyond to the west the popular Sheep Meadow, I walk down to the Dairy Visitor Centre and Gift Shop and make my way to the historic Carousel with its sweet calliope music and 57 magnificent horses it’s one of the park’s most popular attractions. There’s been a carousel here since 1871.
The Woolman Ice Rink is a great place to skate in the winter but in the summer months it hosts an old fashioned amusement park geared up towards smaller children.
At the neck of the Pond near 59th Street is the Gapstow Bridge, one of the most iconic bridges in Central Park. This is not the original bridge, the first one made of wood and iron deteriorated and was replaced with this one in 1896.
My final stop on my wander around Central Park is the Central Park Zoo, a small but charming zoo, I didn’t visit but from what I could see it looked like a fun place to go especially with small children.
Just a little further down from the zoo you can see the Delacorte Clock, named after the philanthropist George T. Delacorte the clock brings seasonal chimes and nursery rhymes on the half hour. The clock sits atop a three tired tower and features a band of whimsical animals, two bronze monkeys banging hammers against a bell, a penguin on a drum, a hippo on a violin, a bear and his tambourine, a concertina playing elephant, a goat with pipes, and a kangaroo on horn.
Although I’ve certainly not seen everything Central Park has to offer I hope this gives you a glimpse of a wonderful space in the heart of New York City.