Sights and Landmarks
There is an awful lot to see and do in the park. You could spend an afternoon just looking for some of the famous landmarks, such as the statues and fountains. Alice in Wonderland The giant
New York City native George Delacorte was a publisher and philanthropist. The
The Arsenal was built in 1851, prior to the construction of the park. Today the historic structure, located on Fifth Avenue just inside the Sixty-fourth Street entrance, serves mostly as office space for the Parks and Recreation Department. It housed Civil War troops back in 1864 and 1865, and in 1869 it served briefly as the first home of the American Museum of Natural History. Visitors can view the original plans for Central Park, murals, and building design features. Open Mondays to Fridays, 9
Bethesda Terrace is home to the multilevel Bethesda Fountain, dedicated in 1873 and named for a pool in Jerusalem. It was designed to be the heart of the park. One of the most photographed fountains in the world, the
The view is spectacular from the top of the stairs, with rowboats in the background below lush trees with their branches and green leaves hanging over the waters. The boathouse can be seen to the right. The terrace surrounding the fountain is a busy stopping point for the numerous visitors who stroll by and stop to enjoy the beauty of the scene. Street performers, including jugglers, magicians, and musicians, delight the kids — and their parents too, for that matter. Bethesda Terrace is by Seventy-second Street, toward the east side (or Fifth Avenue side) of the park.
There are numerous statues throughout the great park, including a number of famed monuments to leaders from nations around the world. Among the many famous statues in the park are the
Midpark at 79th Street
This is the only castle on park grounds, and the massive stone structure was originally built in 1872. The highest point in the park, the castle is the place to go to get a great view of the acreage around it, including the Great Lawn and the Delacorte Theater, home to Shakespeare in the Park, a free first-come, first-serve season of Shakespearean plays performed during the summer months. Inside the castle you'll find the Henry Luce Nature Observatory (which encourages visitors to explore the natural world through microscopes and telescopes), various displays, programs for the kids, and workshops. The castle is also home to the instruments of the U.S. Weather Bureau. For more than eighty years, meteorological instruments here have provided New Yorkers with the temperature in Central Park. Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10
Midpark at 65th Street
The Dairy was originally the park's first fast-food restaurant. Today the small Victorian building is a visitor center and gift shop, housing books and information about the park. You can also purchase souvenirs such as T-shirts, mugs, and framed photographs. Just north of the Wollman Rink, the Dairy is a place to get maps, buy books about the park, and find out about park events and park history. The Dairy is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10
Hans Christian Andersen Statue
75th Street, near 5th Avenue
This larger-than-life statue of the children's author of such classics as
The Harlem Meer
East side from 106th to 110th streets
The Meer is an eleven-acre lake (or
The Harlem Meer is one of the few places in Manhattan where you can actually go fishing. Bamboo poles and bait are available free of charge at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, adjacent to the Meer. Fish must be thrown back to maintain the careful ecological balance of life. Poles are available with a photo ID on a first-come basis Tuesday through Sunday from 10
Woodlands, meadows, and even battlegrounds from the War of 1812 can be found within a short walk of the Meer. Although many people still don't know about the Meer, in nice weather you can find some hundred people a day fishing there.
The Reservoir is a 106-acre body of water, built in 1862 smack in the middle of the northern part of the park above Eighty-sixth Street. It was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in 1995. The path surrounding the reservoir, just more than 1.5 miles in length, is now the park's most popular jogging track, home to thousands of runners in training for races. Although the reservoir is no longer used for the city's drinking water, it still remains the largest body of water in the park. The view across the reservoir is stunning, and the trees, including cherry trees, and numerous birds make for great scenery. A reconstruction of the original fence has recently been erected.