NYC’s Central Park – Manhattan’s Green Oasis

Central Park

Have a look at some of the many Central Park Posters available for purchase.

A Cormorant spotted one Summer Day at the lake within Central Park. It's one of so very many waterfowl and other birds to be seen throughout the year at this grand park of NYC.

A Cormorant spotted one Summer Day at the lake within Central Park. It’s one of so very many waterfowl and other birds to be seen throughout the year at this grand park of NYC.

Central Park spans from 59th Street to 110th Street and from 5th Avenue to Central park West.

I’d hate to think what all of us Native New Yorkers would do without this great eden?…So I’m exaggerating a bit…but after a long hard day at work or a stressful afternoon, this is the closest we might ever get. Stretching from 59th to 110th streets, this 843 acre grassy expanse is just what the doctor ordered.

Over 20 million people visit the park each year. It took 16 years to build it, and it was declared a national Historical Landmark in 1965 and a New York City Landmark in 1974.

In this park you can find dozens of things to do. Whether its running, roller blading, bicycling, swimming, picnicking, or even renting a row boat…this park is it!

The Park is also home to or at least visited by over 200 species of birds according to the Central Park Conservancy. Of these, just over 30 species were actually known to be nesting inside the park at the time of a 1998 survey. Yes folks, they actually went around and counted birds and nests and such.

I’ll never forget one spring day in 2000 when I crossed the park and came upon a raccoon, woodpecker and the usual collection of ducks and geese. ‘But of course, birds aren’t the only wildlife that love the park, there are even frogs in the ponds, and I’d even seen a rabbit once. ‘But get the feeling that he was probably lost, maybe from a local resident?. ‘Even recently there was this coyote that ventured on down from the Hudson River Valley and ended up in Manhattan…’don’t that beat all!. Wildlife conservationists named him “Otis” and placed him in the Queens Wildlife Center.

If you’re a visitor from out of town, come to the park. If you’re a native like myself…where what’re you waiting for? ‘Come to the Park…WAIT!…on second hand don’t!….I’d like this park all to myself….hehehehe

A beautiful day with quite the interesting sky overhead at Central Park.

A beautiful day with quite the interesting sky overhead at Central Park.

History

In and around 1850, New York City’s leading merchants and bankers-seconded by many of its newspaper editors campaigned to create a grand, public park as a way of establishing New York’s credentials as an international capital. Such a park, moreover, would provide appealing scenic vistas through which members of their class could ride their carriages.

After two years of debate, in 1853 the state legislature authorized New York City to acquire more than seven hundred acres in upper Manhattan for Central Park. After a design competition in which politics figured greatly in the outcome, the park commissioners selected the Greensward Plan of the English-immigrant architect Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. On May 17, 1858, Olmsted was appointed architect in chief of the Central Park project, and, with Vaux, strove to make the first American park a work of art. (And succeed they did!)

A Hawk photographed at Bethesda Terrace within Central Park. We spent an hour chasing this fella around for such a shot.

A Hawk photographed at Bethesda Terrace within Central Park. We spent an hour chasing this fella around for such a shot.

When the project was begun, the site was an area containing pig farms and squatters’ shacks; twenty years and the labor of more than thirty-eight hundred workers were required to construct the hills, lakes, and paths which became so important to New Yorkers at the time and truly well appreciated today. Central Park established Olmsted’s reputation and became the prototype for urban parks across the United States.

Vaux and Olmsted crafted their design largely according to the English pastoral tradition. The designers proposed open meadows and picturesque woodlands that would offer a refreshing remedy to the bustle and monotony of city streets. They further separated the park from the city by sinking the four commercial roads that crossed the park beneath the surface so ordinary traffic would not interfere with the continuous movement of parkgoers’ views.

In mid 1858 portions of the park were opened to the public and in December 1858 it was opened to ice skaters.

Did You Know? Central Park has:

  • 32 statues
  • 9,000 benches
  • 12 ball fields
  • 21 playgrounds

Did you also know that:

  • Sheep actually lived in the Sheep Meadow from 1864-1934
  • Central Park is 843 acres
  • If you walk entirely around Central Park you’d cover 6 miles
  • Over 170 films have been shot in Central Park
View from Belvedere Castle of Turtle Pond below and the many trees and skyscrapers of the upper East Side of Manhattan.

View from Belvedere Castle of Turtle Pond below and the many trees and skyscrapers of the upper East Side of Manhattan.

RollerBlading and Bicycling:

Although not everyone adheres to these rules, the park requests that cyclers and skaters stick to the designated recreation lane when the roads are open to traffic, this lane basically runs along the main road which encircles the park and has connecting lanes at various points…beyond that, it’s preferred that one never ride on the pedestrian paths. Here’ s a trick for you to try…stand in place along 72nd street midway through the park and try to count how many skaters you’ll see….with one’s own peripheral vision, you could say at least a hundred at any given daytime hour on the weekends… but never fear, it never gets too hectic.

Row boat rentals:

Boats can be rented at the Loeb Memorial Boathouse (NE of the Lake) near the bicycle rentals stop and just next to the restaurant and restrooms there. Boats are $12 per hour (cash only), $2.50 for each additional 15 minutes with a $20 cash deposit.  Each boat holds up to 4 people. The Loeb Boathouse will provide life jackets. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult..

Weather permitting–from April through November, a fleet of 100 rowboats and 3 kayaks are available for rent from 10am until dusk.

Whether you’re new in town or you’re a native like myself, then you’ve got to do this one day….it’s quite a release and a wonderful experience! Just remember to bring a camera. Don’t worry! You’ll get the hang of the rowing in little time at all. Just watch out for the other boats….It’s supposed to be relaxing….not bumper car rides in Coney Island…..lol

Gondola:

Weather permitting, classic Venetian gondola tours are available on the lake with host Andres Garcia. The Gondola holds up to 6 people and can be reserved at $30 per half hour

Fishing:

Believe it or not fishing is allowed in the following bodies of water: the Lake, 100th Street Pool, 59th Street Pool & the Harlem Meer which is located on the northeastern corner of the park.

…and if you don’t have a fishing pole, then you could pass by The Charles A. Dana Center which is just north alongside of the Harlem Meer and get a bamboo fishing pole & bait for free. But, please remember one thing: Fishing is only allowed on a “catch and release basis” meaning, you can’t keep what you catch…you’d have to throw it back in the water….also, please do not litter in the water, or leave anything behind, like a fishing hook?…not a good idea….just thought to mention that. If you’d like more information regarding this or anything else, visit the Central Park Conservancy or you could call the Dana Center at: (212) 860-1370.

Year ’round activities: Past and future regular events have included:

The annual New York Marathon ends here. Many other races throughout the year take place here.

New Year’s Eve Midnight 5K run which have fireworks and post-race partying and dancing. The 1998 race drew in upwards of 8-10,000 racers from around the world.

Free concerts which have featured the likes of Diana Ross, Sarah MacLachlan, Eric Clapton, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards, Simon and Garfunkel amongst many others. Even Sting was recently here in 2000.

Perhaps the special activities that go on inside the park are too many to cover. Just remember that there’s almost always something going on inside of Central Park.

The Wollman Rink:

is open to skating from October through March and is located around 62nd & 63rd Streets not too far from the southeastern corner of the park. Heading north from Midtown, your best entry point is the south eastern entrance at 59th Street. Call 212-439-6900 for additional information.

Tennis:

Located just above the Lake around 94th & 96th streets are these tennis courts.
Call Central Park Court Reservations for information, located at 93rd St. and West Drive (212) 280-0205

Lasker Rink/Pool:

Located between 108th – 109th street, below the Harlem Meer, East of the North Woods and above the Ravine “to grandma’s house we go”…Sorry, couldn’t help myself…..is the Lasker Rink & Pool. From November through April, skating is allowed, and only if nearby signs indicate that the ice is thick enough. During spring and summer, swimming is allowed.

Shakespeare in the Park (Summer):

I remember going to my first and only performance at this theatre. It was the Tempest starring Patrick Stewart. A friend and I had gone down first to The Public Theater on 325 Lafayette Street to get tickets. After maybe 40″ we got tired and went on our way. Days later we were in the park near the Delacorte Theater. ‘And whammo!…we were on our way inside. You see, they hand out last minute tickets when, I suppose, certain sponsors and such don’t show up (‘though I may be wrong)

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Manhattan - Central Park

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Manhattan - Central Park 40.771133, -73.974187 Central Park Page within New YorkledCentral Park, New York, NY, United States (Directions)
By | 2018-02-03T20:01:20+00:00 August 23rd, 2013|New York City / NYC, Sight|Comments Off on NYC’s Central Park – Manhattan’s Green Oasis
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