Central Park is an important part of New York City. Since 1963, it has been a National Historic Landmark, and every year there are 25 million visitors. The Park is often filmed in movies, and in 2004 alone, there were over 4,000 location days for filming and photography. People even have their weddings in the Park, for a fee of $400.
The park took 20 years to landscape the 843-acre public park, and it began in 1857 with Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, who ended up contributing to the design of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
Central Park is so big that it has its own wildlife, including 200 species of birds. There are plenty of grassy areas to relax in, and six miles of the park is closed to car traffic on weekends and evenings after 7 p.m., which makes it the perfect spot for joggers, bikers and skateboarders.
As of December 2005, the real estate value of Central Park was estimated to be over $5 billion. There are tons of attractions and activities to do in the Park, so here are some of the highlights.
Built in 1869, the Castle was restored in 1983, and since 1919 the National Weather Service has taken temperature measurements on its roof. Located at Mid-Park at 79th Street, the Castle is open from November to March, Wednesdays through Sundays at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and April to October, Tuesdays through Sundays at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The fourth one in Central Park since 1871, the Carousel has 57 horses and almost 250,000 riders each year. The first Carousel was powered by a live horse from 1873 to 1924, and the two subsequent carousels were destroyed by fires. Located at Mid-Park at 64th Street, the Carousel is open seven days a week, provided the weather is good.
Central Park Zoo
On the East side between 63rd and 66th Street is the Central Park Zoo. From April through October it is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from November through March it is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Built in 1984, highlights of the zoo include polar bears, penguins, and sea lion feedings, held daily at 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. For more information, call (212) 439-6500.
On the East Side from 104th to 106th Street is a six-acre garden that is divided into the following three styles: French, Italian, and English. It’s open from 8 a.m. to dusk.
An outdoor theater located at Mid-Park at 80th Street on the southwest corner of the Great Lawn, Delacorte hosts “Shakespeare in the Park” during the summer.
Located in the center of Central Park, the Great Lawn takes up 55-acres, and it is open from mid-April to mid-November.
Hallett Nature Sanctuary
Originally a bird sanctuary in 1934, this 4-acre plot is now off-limits to park-goers, but offers guided tours. It’s located at the North and West of the Pont at 5th Avenue and Central Park South.
The second largest of nine bodies of water in Central Park, the Lake is located at Mid-Park from 71st to 78th Street.
At 85th Street to 96th Street is the biggest body of water in Central Park. The Reservoir is 106 acres and 40 feet deep. Built in the 1960s it was meant to be a temporary water supply to New York City, but it wasn’t decommissioned until 1993. A popular running track circles the reservoir.
Built in 1874 to accommodate the popularity of boating on the Lake, the Boathouse offers gondola rides and boat and kayak rentals. Located near the Lake on the East side, between 74th and 75th Street, there is also a restaurant and outdoor bar and grill.
Restaurants in Central Park
Located at Mid-Park north of the Heckscher Ballfields at 65th Street, this House has salads, sandwiches and burgers.
Le Pain Quotidien
On the west side at Mid-Park at 69th Street is a restaurant that serves handmade bread and organic beer and wine. Open everyday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Merchants’ Gate Plaza Café
Located in Columbus Circle at Central Park South and Central Park West, this café has two kiosks: one that serves gelato and smoothies, and one that has cappuccinos and espressos.
Bike and Carriage Tours
Central Park NYC