Central Park in New York City is the most filmed location in the world, but until you actually walk off the loud and crowded Manhattan streets and start strolling along the park you really can’t not appreciate how big this park truly is.
During last fall’s trip to New York City I visited Central Park for the second time and wanted to show Melek the wonders of the park. She thought we would go see it for a few hours and then head somewhere else. By the end of the day we were still in the park and had not even gotten to the Reservoir in the middle of the park. That is because Central Park goes for 51 blocks (59th to 110th) and is two and a half miles long.
Central Park was established in 1853 when the city’s elite determined a large park in the middle of the ever growing city was needed just like London had Hyde Park. The current site was chosen because the Croton Aqueduct’s 35-acre reservoir would be in the geographical center and the area was believed to be too rocky and marshy for development. At that time the Central Park area housed several small settlements, like Pigtown and Seneca Village, of free blacks and Irish immigrants and 1600 people were evicted to make room for the park.
Some of the best features of the park from South to North are:
–Arsenal – predates the park and was a munitions supply depot for the New York State National Guard
–The Central Park Zoo
–Friedsman Carousel – A vintage carousel built in 1908
–Sheep Meadow – spacious lawn that was originally home to a herd of sheep until 1934, their nearby pen was a Victorian style building and today is the Tavern on the Green restaurant
–Balto Statue – statue to the famous sled dog who led a sled team through a blizzard to deliver medicine to Nome, Alaska (built in 1925)
–Bethesda Terrace with the Angel of the Waters fountain (1873) – popular meeting place and film location
–Loeb Boathouse – you can rent rowboats for $12/hour
–The Ramble – A sort of mini forest, described by its designer as a “wild garden,” the Ramble is sculpted out of a wooded hillside, with winding paths, rocky outcrops, secluded glades, and a tumbling stream.
–Belvedere Castle – Built as a Victorian folly in 1869, the castle caps Vista Rock
–Metropolitan Museum of Art – The world class art museum. Out back is an Egyptian obelisk from 1500 BC
–Delacorte Theatre -Home of the famous Shakespeare in the Park
–Swedish Cottage – home of the Marionette Theatre. Originally Sweden’s exhibit for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
–The Reservoir. Constructed in 1858 as a vast urban lake with a 1.58 mile track around it
–The Pool – an excellent spot for quiet contemplation, with its grassy banks and nearby waterfalls.
–Great Hill – site of Fort Clinton from the War of 1812 era
–Harlem Meer – 11 acre lake surrounded by flowering trees and inhabited by fish and turtle
–Charles A. Dana Discovery Center – education and community programs and seasonal exhibits and a popular place for fishing.
Since I first saw the movie You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan I have always wanted to visit Zabar’s grocery store on the Upper West Side at 80th St, so Melek and I went there and got a sampling of different foods and had a picnic in Central Park. It was the end to an amazing day within this Garden of Eden located in the heart of one of the largest cities in the world.