Central Park is a standout landmark of New York. People from all over the world have witnessed its splendor and been able to enjoy its amenities. Celebrities, royalty, tourists and the average New Yorker get to enjoy this wonderful park, which measures 60 blocks tall and 3 avenues wide.
This list is going to dive into some of the obvious spots to see in Central Park, as well as some of the low-key secrets that unleash more magic out of this already extraordinary landmark.
So let’s start at the most southern point.
The Pond, arguably Central Park’s most serene spot, is located in the southeast corner of the park and is a highly sought out destination to escape the surrounding urban chaos. With a large surface area and plenty of vantage points, The Pond gives park-goers a place to kick back with a nice shot of the water, a few small bridges, the trees, and buildings popping out from behind.
When the park was created, this pond was designed to be one of seven natural bodies of water to cultivate and attract life. This gives the animals in the area such as birds, ducks, and turtles a place to dwell and fulfill the ecosystem’s circle. To be even more exact, there are 240 migratory bird species that live at the Pond.
Grab a sandwich and a friend, catch a sunset view and kick back at Central Park’s iconic Pond.
Central Park Zoo
Central Park Zoo is part of four zoos and one aquarium that is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Being accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, these destinations are noted for their conservation dedication and a vast array of species.
Technically speaking, Central Park Zoo was the first menagerie to display animals in New York City. As the society developed, diversity and conservation became integral moving forward, setting a standard for the animal enclosures to follow.
The zoo, after being majorly renovated to include more naturalistic environments in 1988, is divided into three main exhibit areas: tropical, temperate and polar. These areas include an indoor rainforest, polar bear pool, penguin house, as well as a few endangered species, and most recently, a snow leopard exhibit which was added in 2009.
John Randel Jr.’s Surveyor Bolt
In a time before Manhattan’s grid system was in place, surveyor John Randel used mathematics and his hands to plot the future layout of New York City’s center borough. In doing so, he plotted several metal bolts and marble slabs into corners where intersections would ultimately be.
Therefore what looks like a simple piece of metal jammed into a rock in Central Park, actually turns out to be one of these centuries-old markers that represented what New York City would become. Although Central Park was never a part of the original layout, the marker still remains.
Before the grid system was implemented, many Manhattanites were up in arms about the new system as it meant that many of their houses were to be demolished for the plan to work. They were bought out in the end, but poor John Randel faced a lot of scrutiny and discouragement during his initial surveying days.
Supposedly someone even unleashed dogs on him, ruh-oh!
The Mall/Bethesda Fountain
Further up north in the park, right before The Lake takes over the landscape, there is The Mall, which connects to Bethesda Terrace and its accompanying fountain. This area appears in many movies and is great for many people to stop and relax, rollerblade, skateboard and even jam out in the bandshell.
Every way you turn, you will catch a familiar glimpse of a location that you may have seen in anything from an advertisement to TV shows and movies. Its iconic underpass with tiled walls and ceilings will remind you of many New York centric stories, and the view from the waterside will make you appreciate being a New Yorker.
There is no denying that this terrace is part of the New York mentality where people from all walks of life can enjoy various hobbies and have conversations, regardless of who you know or what you’re there for. It’s a simple enjoyment that really leaves an impression on you after you leave Central Park. (P.S. There’s also a bathroom here, score!)
Strawberry Fields is a monument to the late, great songwriter John Lennon after he was fatally shot outside of his apartment building, The Dakota, in 1980. At only 40 years old and ready to make a resurgence in his musical career, Lennon was tragically shot five times in the back by deranged fan Mark David Chapman --who actually received a signature from Lennon earlier on in the day-- on the night of December 8, 1980.
The Dakota apartment building is located right across the street from Central Park, including Lennon’s memorial slab that reads “Imagine” on it. Many people gather here regularly to pay their respects to the ex-Beatle and witness the locations that he enjoyed during his spare time.
The untimely death of John Lennon shocked the nation, especially the city that he decided to call his home in his final years of life, though fans worldwide still honor his legacy and visit Strawberry Fields to leave flowers and pay their respects. Lennon’s ashes were scattered throughout the park so that he will forever remain at home.
This iconic castle was built to be eye candy but has stood the test of time since the late 19th century, also overlooks a large area including The Ramble, Turtle Pond, and Great Lawn. This structure is essentially a shell with windows and doorways, but it was occupied by the United States Weather Bureau in 1912 for meteorological uses.
Though in 1983, the weather equipment was moved south of the castle, and the inside became a visitor center and gift shop, as well as a place to host Central Park Conservancy and other community programs. The castle is also currently under renovations to improve the guest experience, so pardon their dust and wait out the sweet changes.
Once it’s back open, it’ll be the place for a sweet vantage point.
Charles B. Stover Bench
Charles B. Stover was New York’s former City Parks Commissioner, helping establish the Outdoor Recreation League which greatly benefitted the over-populated Lower East Side, and denoted the official creation of the Shakespeare Garden. However, deep in Central Park, there is a bench that was dedicated to him in 1936.
Although this memorial is no ordinary seat. Aside from its unique shape, the 20-foot bench is nicknamed “The Whispering Bench”, because those who sit at opposite ends can actually hear each other whisper. The unique shape and curve of the ends help create this effect, and it’s super cool to witness.
Go have a seat, right over there.
Finding its third home in Central Park, the Egyptian Obelisk nicknamed Cleopatra’s Needle, is a 220-ton piece of granite that was initially erected in 1450 BC Egypt. It was built near the Nile River for a Pharaoh that wanted to immortalize his 30-year reign.
In 1880, during a time when Egypt was Turkish-ruled, the Egyptian Khedive wanted to modernize his country, therefore offering the obelisk to America for funds. The process of transporting this massive monument from the banks of the Hudson to its final resting place in Central Park took 112 days.
It was finally turned upright in January 1881 and still stands as New York City’s oldest man-made object. You gotta peep this.
Seneca Village Site
This area used to be home to an African American community one of a kind, as it was the largest settlement of its kind in New York. In 1825, two African Americans, Andrew Williams and Epiphany Daniels purchased land from West 82nd to 85th St between 7th and 8th Ave.
With a great location, being close to the Hudson River and a freshwater spring, houses began to pop up in the area over the first few years. By 1855, there were 70 houses and over 250 residents, but in 1853, the land was designated to part of the future Central Park.
This misplaced over 1,600 residents of the soon-to-be parkland, and by 1856, residents were being compensated to relocate. After relocation, Seneca Village never had the chance to find a new home as a community, but it’s 30-plus year of existence goes down as an empowered time for African American New Yorkers.
Drinking Water Falls