York's Central Park
in New York City is one of the most famous public parks in the United
States. It was the first landscaped public
park in the United States. Imagine vast land, full of rocks, swamps
and undesirable visuals. That's exactly what Central Park was until
1858. For years, many of the upper-class residents of New York City
complained about the unsightly mess that could be seen above 38th
Street. Finally, they began to rally for the land to be developed
into a park. By 1857, city officials raised about $5 million dollars
just for the project. That same year, they sponsored a contest for
the best park plan. In 1858, the winning design, "Greensward
Plan" which was created by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert
Vaux, was chosen. Within the plan they incorporated artery roads
that helped the flow of crosstown traffic. If you catch a cab in
the vicinity of the park and ask to get from the west to the east
side, don't be surprised if you find yourself being driven through
the park down narrow-lane streets.
Currently the park is measured at 843 acres and can be found between
5th and 8th avenues and 59th and 110th street. There are many things
to see and do while you visit the park. Here are several that should
not be missed.
There are several
statues that can be found throughout the park that have been known
to attract the New York City visitor. Some of the most famous are
Alice in Wonderland, Hans Christian Anderson, Civil War Memorial,
Romeo and Juliet, Balto and Still Hunt. Still Hunt is definitely
the most surprising for our visitors. Most people claim that they
can't find it at halfway up East Drive at 76th Street, but if you
just look up, you'll get quite a scare. The statue is of a crouching
panther that looks as though it's about to pounce on the next runner
that passes by.
to Visit While in The Park
o This is the best place to go to find visitor information and learn
more about the history and design of the park
o 19th Century style building overlooking Wollman Rink (during the
winter it is the best place in the city to go ice skating)
Dana Discovery Center
o The environmental educational center that sponsors workshops,
musical performances, and park tours. This is the spot where most
class and family trips stop first.
o The center loans fishing poles for fishing in the Harlem Meer
catch them and then release them!)
o 6 acres of sprawling floral beauty
o North or French Garden features a circle of tiered flower beds.
Here is where you will find the Untermyer Fountain (a fountain that
features dancing nymphs in the center)
o South or English Garden features a reflecting pool filled with
water lilies and goldfish. In the sent is the Burnett Fountain,
a fountain dedicated to Francis Hodgson Burnett, the author of The
Secret Garden. The fountain features the two main characters of
the book, Mary and Dickon.
o This area is exactly what it sounds like. It is a garden centered
o This is the area where you will find statues of Romeo and Juliet,
The Tempest, and quotes from different works of the famous Bard.
o Right around the corner is the Delacorte Theater, where the famous
Shakespeare in the Park performances are held. Two free tickets
are given per person for each performance.
o The garden also leads up to the Belvedere Castle. This 1865 castle
sits on Vista Rock and is currently a U.S. Weather Service Station.
o This is the part of the park that is considered the heart of the
park found around 72nd Street
o Here people can find beautiful views overlooking the man-made
lake and wooded shores
o Here is also where you will find the Bethesda Fountain, a fountain
that features the Angel of Waters statue in the center.
o If you are a John Lennon fan, this is the place to visit. This
is the memorial spot created in his memory. Not a place to skip.
Park for Kids
o Opened in 1871, this carousel was first powered by a mule and
a horse. Don't worry, everything is electrical now.
o Features the largest hand-carved jumping horses in the United
o Each ride is $0.90
o Originally, this theatre was a Swedish 19th Century schoolhouse
o It was placed in the park in 1876 and has offered a variety of
marionette (puppet) shows daily.
Zoo and Wildlife Center
o The current zoo opened on August 8, 1988
o This 5.5 acre zoo holds approximately 24 species of animals, both
endangered and threatened species. i.e. the Red Panda
o The center features a Wildlife Theatre Stage (during the summer),
Wildlife stories for kids daily, animal feeding presentations, and
several school and family programs
I stay if I want to be close to the Park?
There are several
places that you can stay that would keep you and your family close
to this legendary park in the city. There are even some hotels that
most people don't even know about that are considered economy styled
hotels but they are comfortable as well as convenient. For example,
the Clarion Hotel at 429 Park Ave South. The hotel is a little bit
of a walk but it's conveniently centered by other famous New York
City landmarks like the Empire State Building. Another example is
the Howard Johnson at 851 8th Avenue. This hotel is found a little
less than a mile from the Central Park Zoo. It is also very close
by to the Gershwin Theater where you can go catch a matinee or evening
performance of Wicked. Afterwards, you can head on over to Ray's
Pizza on 8th avenue, where you can grab a slice of heaven in the
city. Click on the link to book a hotel in the vicinity of Central
can I do in the vicinity of the park?
The park is
very close to many area attractions in the city. The park is basically
the center of the city. It is conveniently near many Broadway shows.
If you're more into having a bunch of laughs, head on over to Dangerfield's,
a comedy club located at 1118 1st avenue. If you are interested
in a little bit of art, culture, or history, head on over to the
west side to the American Museum of Natural History or over to the
east side to Museum Mile where you can find museums such as El Museo
Del Barrio, the Guggenheim, or the Museum of the City of New York.
Or you can head on over to Lincoln Center for an afternoon or evening
performance which is just 3 blocks from the park.
If you are more of a sport's buff, you can enter in the Circle of
Friends NY mini 10k, a mini-marathon beginning at west 61st street
that goes through the park. This event is sponsored by the NY Runners
Club (contact them for more information). If you want to involve
the family more, you can head on over to Chelsea Piers at 23rd street
and Hudson River. It's about 2 miles from the Central Park Zoo and
you can actually spend an entire day there. Chelsea Piers is also
very near to most of the hotels in the area of Central Park, like
The Time Hotel on 224 W 49th Street, The Plaza on 5th avenue, Lyden
Gardens at 215 E 64th street or the Howard Johnson at 851 8th avenue.
If you are just looking for a good place to eat in the area, all
you have to do is pick your flavor. For those that want the romantic
dinner for two, you might consider Tavern on the Green. Tavern on
the Green is located at West 67th street basically in Central Park.
The restaurant features luxurious meals and wonderful views of the
park. This is considered the ultimate popping-the-question spot.
Make it even more romantic by taking a carriage ride to the front
door. Reservations are definitely suggested.
If you are looking for a casual place to eat, but want it combined
with a little fun, take a short cab trip to Bubba Gumps Shrimp Company
at 1501 Broadway in Times Square. You will be quizzed by waiters
about the movie and possibly win a free glass of water. The restaurant
is filled with the Forest Gump movie memorabilia. Also don't expect
the waiters/waitresses to stop unless you follow the directions
(red paddle for "Stop Forest!", and green paddle for "Go
Advice on Visiting Central Park
the park is beautiful, don't be deceived by its appearance. A few
pieces of advice:
1. Go to the park during the daytime. The park is known for pickpockets
2. Pay close attention to your children. Especially on warm days,
the park is very crowded and your child can get lost in the crowd.
Know where they are at all times.
3. Wear comfortable shoes. Many people have visited the park and
have found that in their exploration of all of the different sites,
they have become lost. Don't worry, you won't need bread crumbs
to find your way back. Just be sure that you have time to explore.
Also a map of the park wouldn't hurt. You can pick one up at The
4. The best advice that I can give is to schedule your time. Know
where you want to go in the park and learn about where it is. Schedule
the things that you do so that you can go to all of the spots in
the park that you want to go to. Also schedule in extra time just
in case you get a little lost.
5. Have fun! The park is meant for beauty, relaxation, and fun.