Central Park is the largest park in New York (341 ha) and probably the most wellknown park in the world. It is located in the center of Manhattan and is so huge that it occupies an area more then twice the size of the nation of Monaco, stretching from northernmost Midtown Manhattan to Harlem. The west side of Central Park is called Upper West Side and the east part Upper East Side. Many celebrities are residing in historic apartment buildings around the park. Many luxury hotels are also situated around the park. Inside the parks there are 9 different lakes, a zoo, museums, restaurants, fountains, 2 castles, monuments and many famous statues. Especially the south part of the park offers great views of the skyline, as the south part is surrounded by skyscrapers. To the south the park is bordered by the street Central Park South, to the east by 5th Avenue, to the west by Central Park West and to the north by Central Park North. In the southeastern edge the famous Grand Army Plaza is situated and on the southwest edge you can find the modern Columbus Circle. The largest lake in the park is Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Unfortunately we reached Central Park in the late afternoon all 3 times we visited the park, and it turned dark very quickly in August. We only visited the south part, that is the most famous and the middle part. One of the most surprising things was that we met a raccoon after dark in the mid section, that escaped in a garbage can!
HISTORY: The first version of Central Park opened in 1857 on a 3.1 km2 large area, but the park was expanded until 1873 to 3.41km2 by a design by the landscape designer and writer Frederick Law Olmsted and the English architect Calvert Vaux.
SOUTH CENTRAL PARK:
Midtown Manhattan skyline seen from Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Skyscrapers from the left: Bloomberg Tower, Hotel Pierre, Four Seasons Hotel, General Motors Bldg (Sherry-Netherlands Hotel, in front of it), 590 Madison Ave (formerly IBM Bldg), Sony Building, Trump Tower, Solow Bldg, Park Lane Hotel, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, GE Bldg, Hampshire House (Burlington House behind), Essex House Hotel, 108 W 57St (Cityspire behind), Carnegie Hall Tower, 888 7th Ave, Random House Tower, Central Park Place, Hearst Tower, Trump International Hotel, Time Warner Center.
Meadows Green is a nice place to have picnic with stunning views of Manhattan skyline.
Meadows Green offers one of the best views of the Midtown skyline, the buildings appear closer then they do from the top of skycrapers.
CENTRAL PARK SOUTH:
Central Park South with its many luxury hotels. This street leads from Grand Army Plaza to Columbus Circle.
The Merchant's Gate sculpture at the southwest entrance to Central Park, on 8th Avenue next to Columbus Circle.
The 10 km of drives in the park are used by joggers, bicyclists, skateboarders, and inline skaters. On weekends and in the evenings after 7:00 p.m., cars are prohibited. West Drive is this curvy road.
The park has its own police, and the crime rate has declined from 1000 crimes a year to only 100 a year since the 80s.
Rocks in the south part of Central Park.
Rocks near the southwest gate.
The Pond in the south end of Central Park. It is popular to sit there and relax since it is so close to the urban area of Midtown.
Skyscrapers of Central Park South.
Grand Army Plaza seen from Central Park South.
The skyscrapers immediately to the south of Central Park at sunset.
The Lake is the 2nd largest lake of Central Park and is situated in the upper part of southern Central Park.
Bethesda Terrace with Bethesda Fountain.
Bethesda Fountain from 1864 features a statue called "Angel of the Waters". It had a central role in the TV show "Angels in America".
People gather at Bethesda Fountain. A couple is getting married.
Terrace Drive is located above Bethesda Terrace.
The gateway to Bethesda Terrace.
The Boathouse, a restaurant at The Lake. It might look nice but when entering the park, you get a free map of the map that encourages people to boycott the restaurant because of corruption and bad working conditions. It states that 15 waitresses have been fired for excercising their legal rights. The Swedish Queen Victoria doesn't seem to care about that though, since she was one of the guests.
A gondola in the Lake, the Venice of Manhattan.
Upper West Side seen from The Lake.
Upper West Side seen from the Balcony Bridge at The Lake.
The famous Balcony Bridge. You can see it on many postcards.
The Dakota Building seen from West Central Park. This is the building where John Lennon lived, and Yoko Ono and many other celebrities live there today. It is also outside this building where Lennon was shot to death. The Dakota, built in 1884, is also famous for being the setting for the horror movie "Rosemary´s Baby". Other prominent residents through the years are Lauren Bacall, Boris Karloff, Judy Garland, Sean Lennon and many more. It was drawn by Henry J. Hardenberg in a sort of German Renaissance style. It is a National Historic Landmark since 1976. See more pictures of it in the Upper West Side section.
San Remo Apartments seen from The Lake. This 27-storey twin tower building from 1931 has famous residents like Steven Spielberg, Demi More, Bono, Dustin Hoffman, Tiger Woods, Glenn Close, Aaron Spelling, Rita Hayworth, Steve Jobs and Bruce Willis, just to mention a few of them that live there now or in the past.
Cherry Hill Fountain and a horse carriage.
Daniel Webster was a famous politican, he lived 1782-1852.
Strawberry Fields is a small park inside the park on the west end of south Central Park. It was financed by Yoko Ono and different countries that donated trees to honour her dead husband John Lennon. It was underwritten by Yoko Ono. The Imagine monument is located there. Strawberry Fields entrance is at the Dakota Building, where Lennon was shot. Strawberry Fields Forever was a song by The Beatles.
Strawberry Fields. "Imagine all the people live in peace...John Lennon". Unfortunately it is still hard to imagine that.
"Imagine". The monument contributed to John Lennon.
After the attacks of 9/11 2001 a ceremony was held at this place to honour the victims.
The Dakota at Central Park West, in the end of Strawberry Field.
THE MIDDLE PART OF CENTRAL PARK:
CENTRAL PARK ZOO:
Central Park Zoo is a small zoo (2.6 ha) in the southeast part of Central Park. It is New York's oldest zoo, but much smaller then the Bronx Zoo.
Central Park Zoo´s Wildlife Center with its tropical plants and the skyscrapers at Columbus Circle in the background. The zoo has an indoor rain forest.
The gate to Wildlife Center with the Bellacorte Clock on top.
The rocks on East Central Park.
Conservatory Water, the lake where the HC Andersen and Alice in Wonderland sculptures are, and Lower East Side skyline. Note the green roof gardens on top of the apartment blocks.
The HC Andersen statue by Georg Lober was unveiled in 1956. It was especially nice to visit it for us, since Denmark is our neighboor country and HC was the famous Danish writer, who write "The Ugly Duckling". The duckling was stolen in the late 90s, making a lot of fuss, but was found again.
This street light comes from Copenhagen.
This 9/11 memorial is just next to the HC Andersen statue.
Alice in Wonderland. This sculpture was unveiled in 1959 and is very popular among kids.
The Alice in Wonderland statue has been featured in many movies. (I couldn't resist the red color).
Belvedere Castle is a small castle in mid Central Park, built on Vista Rock, overlooking the Lower Reservoir and the Turtle Pond. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the designers of Central Park, also designed the castle. It is a mix between Gothic and Romanesque architecture styles.
Belvedre Castle. It turned dark very (just a few minutes) fast when we reached the castle!
The view of Turtle Pond and Lower East Side from Belvedere Castle.
The Cinderella style Belvedere Castle looks larger from the outside then it appears from the top (sorry for the bad quality).
Midtown skyline seen from the Great Lawn in North Central Park.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir with the dark skyline. It is a 43 ha large reservoir, the by far largest lake on Manhattan. It was completed in 1862, originally called just Central Park Reservoir and was designed by Olmsted and Vaux, the designers of Central Park. Jackie Kennedy used to jog here (she lived close to it), hence the name.
When we reached Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, that is by far the largest one of the lakes, it was completely dark (that is why the quality is so low, that I apologize for). And we were situated in an oval called Great Lawn, so it was very hard to navigate. We decided to follow the east part of the Reservoir on the joggin trail, but we didn't see any way out until we reached the north part of the park. People started to disappear, but we met an anxious Italian girl that also got lost in the park. We got company with the girl and finally we got out on the north side of the reservoir.
We didn't visit The Cloister (a castle with an art museum), the Swedish Cottage Theatre or Harlem Meer in the North, Cleopatra's Needle (we couldn't find it in the dark) or Jackie Kennedy Reservoir daytime and many other place, but we saw most of the important sights, and you can read more about it on Central Park's Wikipedia site.