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Central Park: Size Does Matter!

Updated on May 5, 2014
Outside Central Park on 59th Street
Outside Central Park on 59th Street | Source

Recently, my wife and I celebrated my birthday with a romantic getaway to New York City. The highlight of our visit was a day in Central Park, truly one of the greatest parks in the world!

Central Park is an oasis in the middle of one of the world's busiest cities. Set in the middle of Manhattan, it offers an escape from the madness that is New York. The contrast being even more striking because it is just a short walk from Times Square, possibly the most crowded place on earth.

When it comes to Central Park, size does matter! Join us as we explore all 843 acres of New York's Central Park, covering some 51 blocks from top to bottom (two and a half miles), and 3 blocks across (half a mile). The variety is endless from the crowded Mall and Bethesda Terrace to the isolation of the Ravine at the northern end.

Here are the photo highlights of our day. After you've read the article, take this quiz to see how well you know Central Park.

How To See The Park

A horse-drawn carriage ride is one of the most romantic and picturesque ways to see Central Park. Other options include Pedicabs, bike rentals, roller blades, running and walking.

It is impossible not to fall in love with this iconic place. Central Park has been featured in so many movies that it is impossible to list them all.

The Mall

Clockwise: The Mall / Wollman Rink / Violinist on the Mall / Horse-drawn Carriage Ride
Clockwise: The Mall / Wollman Rink / Violinist on the Mall / Horse-drawn Carriage Ride | Source
My Dog Loves Central Park Country Fair
My Dog Loves Central Park Country Fair | Source

The Mall is a great place for people watching. Under the graceful tunnel of trees arching above the Mall, you can sit and watch the world go by. We enjoyed listening to a violinist next to the historic statue of Christopher Columbus at the foot of the Mall, and were delighted to find that our visit coincided with the annual 'My Dog Loves Central Park' Country Fair.

Bethesda Terrace and The Lake

Clockwise: Bow Bridge / Bethesda Terrace / Loeb Boathouse / Wedding in front of Angels of the Waters Fountain
Clockwise: Bow Bridge / Bethesda Terrace / Loeb Boathouse / Wedding in front of Angels of the Waters Fountain | Source

Bethesda Terrace,at the top end of the Mall, is arguably the central attraction in the park. While we were there we were entertained by buskers, and saw several wedding parties being photographed in front of the Angels of the Waters fountain. The Terrace links to the Lake, where boats can be rented from the nearby Loeb Boathouse, another iconic Central Park building where you can enjoy a cold drink on the lakeside patio.

The Lake

The Lake
The Lake | Source
Turtle in The Lake
Turtle in The Lake | Source

The Lake opens out under Bow Bridge and is home to fish and numerous turtles. The terrain is surprisingly rocky and reminiscent of places much further north.

The wooded area north of the lake is known as the Ramble, and offers the opportunity for a romantic walk on the winding trails.

Strawberry Fields - Tribute to John Lennon

Left-to-Right: The Dakota / Imagine / Strawberry Fields
Left-to-Right: The Dakota / Imagine / Strawberry Fields | Source

Strawberry Fields is a memorial garden located on Central Park West at West 72nd Street, directly across the road from the Dakota Apartments where former Beatle John Lennon lived and outside which he was murdered in December 1980. The gardens are on a tear-shaped piece of land and its focal point is a circular pathway of inlaid stones, with a single word, the title of Lennon's famous song: Imagine. Although designated a quiet zone, there were no complaints from those paying their respects when a guitarist strummed some of Lennon's classic tunes.

Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle and view over Turtle Pond
Belvedere Castle and view over Turtle Pond | Source

Belvedere Castle was originally built in 1869 as a lookout over the reservoir to the north, and the Ramble to the south. It is aptly named as Belvedere in Italian means 'beautiful view'. Since 1919, the National Weather Service has used instruments located on the tower to report temperature and wind conditions from Central Park. We were not able to go to the highest point, but we were able to enjoy the view over nearby Turtle Pond.

The Reservoir

The Reservoir
The Reservoir | Source

In the middle of Central Park is the massive reservoir. A spectacular man-made lake, it is 40 feet deep and holds one billion gallons of water. It was decommissioned in 1993 when the Third Water Tunnel was built.

Runners abound in Central Park, and former President Bill Clinton, Madonna and Jackie Kennedy Onassis (who the reservoir was named for in 1994) are among the runners who have taken to the 1.58 mile long track that circles the reservoir.

The Ravine

The Ravine
The Ravine | Source
Harlem Meer and Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
Harlem Meer and Charles A. Dana Discovery Center | Source

At the northern end of Central Park, The Pond feeds out through The Loch and The Ravine into Harlem Meer. This area is much more secluded than the areas south of the reservoir, and it was easy to forget that we were in the middle of one of the biggest cities on earth! In fact, it was reminiscent of being in Vermont or New Hampshire, sitting by the stream as it cascaded over rocky outcrops.

This area also has the Lasker Pool and Rink which, during our visit, was in the process of going through its annual conversion from a swimming pool to an outdoor ice rink.

Conservatory Garden

Conservatory Garden
Conservatory Garden | Source

Just when we thought we had seen it all, we discovered the Conservatory Garden, just south of Harlem Meer. The gardens are beautiful and house Walter Schott's sculpture 'Three Dancing Maidens'. Yet another glorious escape from the throbbing streets of Manhattan.

Central Park: Size Does Matter!

I hope you have enjoyed this photographic journey through Central Park. My article has only just skimmed the surface. One day was not enough to see and do everything that Central Park has to offer. For example, both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Zoo are on the east side of the park and are well worth a visit. There are tennis courts just north of the reservoir and baseball diamonds throughout.

When it comes to Central Park: Size Does Matter and contributes to it being one of the greatest parks in the world!

If you are planning to visit Central Park soon, I highly recommend checking our the Central Park Conservancy website for a list of events and things to do and see.

If you want to test your new knowledge of Central Park, then take this quiz: How Well Do You Know Central Park?

You might also be interested in other Romantic Getaway Ideas. And for those of you with a wedding anniversary this year, here are some Wedding Anniversary Ideas that will help you to celebrate in style!

Happy Travels!



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    • jsasson profile image

      jsasson 5 years ago from Florida

      Wow! I have a few pics I found of belvedere castle, I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. My favorite is the statue of Hans Christian Andersen - hard to find though

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      What is missing is the Tavern on the Green

      Another casualty of the times.