Manhattan/Central Park

For other places with the same name, see Central Park (disambiguation).

A vast green swath of open space in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park is a district in its own right, neatly separating the Upper East Side from the Upper West Side, stretching from Midtown at the southern end to Harlem to the north. The park is a convenient oasis for New Yorkers escaping from their skyscrapers and is well-known globally after its appearance in many movies and television shows, making it one of the most famous city parks in the world. Here you will find calm lakes, babbling brooks, quiet woods, hidden meadows and lush lawns full of sunbathers and picnickers, in this welcome respite from the bustle of the island.

Understand

Central Park Map

Central Park is bordered on the north by Central Park North (110th Street), on the east by Fifth Avenue, on the south by Columbus Circle and Central Park South (59th Street), and on the west by Central Park West (which is called Eighth Avenue south of Columbus Circle and also often north of Central Park, where it is officially named Frederick Douglass Boulevard). The entire park is 2.5 miles long by one-half mile wide (or 4 km × 800 m).

In the 1850s, realizing the need for a large public green space for New Yorkers to get away from the chaos and noise of the city, the New York legislature set aside a vast swath of land in Upper Manhattan. Landscape designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux developed the winning design for the park, influenced by naturalistic landscapes which were popular in park design at the time. Any architectural features and roads were to be visually integrated into the surrounding landscape, to maintain the "rustic" feel of the park. The park was officially completed in 1873, with more than 500,000 cubic feet of topsoil brought in from New Jersey and millions of trees, shrubs, and other plants laying the foundation of the park.

Through the early 20th century the park fell into a decline due to a lack of maintenance, with dead trees, worn-out lawns, and much litter and vandalism. The park received a major boost in the 1930s, when these issues were finally addressed, but the park once again fell into a decline later in the 20th century, becoming increasingly run-down and crime-ridden through the 1960s and 70s. In 1980, the Central Park Conservancy was founded under contract from the city to restore and maintain the park. Today, the violent night crimes of previous decades are all but gone, and common sense is all you really need to stay safe in the park today.

Get in

Central Park is accessible by subway, with the A, B, C, D, and 1 trains stopping at Columbus Circle (on the southwest corner of the park), and the B and C local trains continuing along Central Park West, with stops at 72nd St., 81st St. (under the Natural History Museum on the Upper West Side), 86th St., 96th St., 103rd St., and 110 St. Somewhat further west, the 1 (local) and 2/3 (express) lines travel up Broadway, though that avenue angles further and further to the west northward from Columbus Circle. The 2/3 also stop at 110th St. and Lenox Ave., near the northeast corner of the park. On the Upper East Side, the park can be accessed by taking the 4, 5, and 6 lines along Lexington Avenue and walking 3 blocks west. There is also a stop on the N, Q and R lines at 5th Av. and 60th St., and a stop on the F train at 57th St. and 6th Av., both near the southern limits of the park.

The park is crossed by several bus routes that travel east-west along the transverse roads (the M106, M96, M86, M79, M72, and M66, all with subway connections), as well as the M1, M2, M3, and M4 bus routes along 5th Avenue/Madison Avenue, and the M10 along Central Park West.

See

Fall foliage and a view from the Pond

Central Park is divided for convenience into four "quadrants". From south to north:

South End

The South End runs from Central Park South to the Lake, just north of Terrace Drive (72nd Street).

Imagine Mosaic - Strawberry Fields

Great Lawn

The Great Lawn area runs from the Lake to the 86th Street Transverse Road.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Greek and Roman statuary at the Metropolitan

  Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave (at 82nd St),  +1 212 535-7710. Tu–Th 9:30AM–5:30PM, F-Sa 9:30AM–9PM, Su 9:30AM–5:30PM, closed Mondays. Pay what you wish; includes same-day admission to the Cloisters Museum & Gardens in Upper Manhattan (suggested admission $20 adults, $15 seniors, $10 students, children under 12 free).

One of the world's largest and most important museums of art and world culture, you'll have to devote several hours; nay, an entire day (if not more!), if you want to do this place justice. This massive neo-Gothic building, originally opened in 1872 and with numerous expansions added on over time, holds literally hundreds of rooms on its two floors, containing thousands of art pieces from across human history and around the world, covering virtually every field of art in existence. Along with the numerous permanent exhibit halls mentioned below are several changing exhibit halls.

The first floor holds the American Wing, with period rooms and decorative arts from the 19th and early 20th centuries; the Arms and Armor hall, with suits of armor, swords, guns, and other arms from around the world; Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; Egyptian Art, regarded as the finest collection of Egyptian works outside of Cairo, which features the Roman Period Temple of Dendur; European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, with numerous period rooms and Renaissance sculpture; Greek and Roman Art, with numerous examples of classical sculpture, vases, and bronzes; Medieval Art, featuring a cathedral-like room with numerous Romanesque pieces; and Modern and Contemporary Art, showcasing the works of some of the most famous artists of modern times, such as Balthus, Boccioni, Bonnard, Matisse, and Picasso.

The second floor holds a continuation of the American Wing; Ancient Near Eastern Art, showcasing some monumental Assyrian reliefs and statues; Chinese Art, which holds some exceptional Buddhist sculpture, jades, calligraphy, and period rooms; Cypriot Art, with ancient art from Cyprus; European Paintings and Sculptures, with masterworks from Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Rodin, Van Gogh, and numerous old masters, including five paintings by Johannes Vermeer, the largest collection of Vermeers in any museum in the world; an extremely comprehensive Islamic Art collection; Japanese Art, with numerous prints and textiles; Korean Art, a continuation of the Modern and Contemporary Art halls; and South Asian Art, with works from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, and Southeast Asia.

The Reservoir

The Reservoir area spans the area of the park from the 86th Street Transverse Road to the 97th Street Transverse Road.

North End

The North End spans the area of the park from the 97th Street Transverse Road to Central Park North.

Do

Central Park is popular with walkers and joggers

Being the only large green space in such a densely populated area, Central Park is an extremely popular place for outdoor recreation. It's also a very pretty place to get outdoors, and you'll join numerous other New Yorkers as you explore the greenery of the park and take in views of the surrounding cityscape.

Playgrounds

There are 21 playgrounds in Central Park, with slides and swings for the kids and some with water sprays to cool off during the summer. Nearly all of them are on the edge of the park. Here are the most notable ones:

Buy

The Angel of the Waters, Bethesda Terrace

There are a few places to get souvenirs in Central Park. The visitor center at the Dairy, mid-park at 65th Street, has a gift shop open daily 10AM-5PM and run by the Central Park Conservancy, with lots of Central Park merchandise, like apparel, books, posters, mugs, and postcards. The Zootique in the Central Park Zoo has lots of plush animals, toys, and children's books, as well as zoo souvenirs. However, the most extensive gift shop is the one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which not only has a large book selection but also sells jewelry, watches, prints, decor, apparel, and a whole kid's section with toys and games, all with an art or New York City focus.

Unofficial merchandise can also be found at certain places around the edge of the park. For instance, the walkway to Strawberry Fields is lined with vendors selling prints of the Beatles or little knickknacks like "PEACE" emblems.

Eat

Central Park is dotted with vendors all over. A quick hotdog, pretzel, soda, or ice cream is always available. There are several cafes in the park but, because there are no street addresses, you may have trouble finding them. Many of the cafes are seasonal and operate from about early April to late October. Most of them serve burgers (including veggie ones), sandwiches, coffee/tea and cold drinks. Cafes are located at the Columbus Circle entrance, at the northern end of the ball fields near the carousel (approx. 65th Street), in the Central Park Zoo, and at the Conservatory Pond near the Alice in Wonderland statue (approx. 73rd Street, on the east side of the park).

Drink

Trees and a cast iron bridge north of the Reservoir

There are lots of drinking fountains — approximately 150 — dotting the park, though they're only turned on from April to October. Most of the vendors and the cafes in the park serve coffee/tea and soft drinks, but alcohol is considerably harder to find. In addition, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol anywhere in the city, and this rule is enforced; if the cops see you opening a bottle of beer or wine on the lawn, expect to get fined.

If you do want to have a drink in Central Park, you'll have to head indoors to one of the park's sit-down restaurants. Le Pain Quotidien in the Mineral Springs Pavilion on the north end of the Sheep Meadow sells organic beer and wine year-round, and the restaurant in the Loeb Boathouse has a much larger selection, with an extensive wine list as well as liquor and cocktails and an outdoor sit-down bar area that's open seasonally.

Sleep

It is illegal to sleep overnight in Central Park. A great variety of accommodations, from hostels and budget hotels to really ritzy places, are located in the adjacent districts of Midtown and the Theater District to the south and the Upper West Side to the west.

Connect

Free Wi-Fi provided by AT&T is available in four spots in Central Park: the restaurant at the Mineral Springs Pavilion on the north end of Sheep Meadow, the Rumsey Playfield (from June to early September, in conjunction with the SummerStage concert series), the Central Park Zoo, and the Tavern on the Green restaurant. To log on, look for the network name “attwifi” on your computer and click on it; no username or password is needed. You can also find plenty of hotspots around the edge of the park operated by cafés or restaurants and certain other places, such as the Apple Store across 5th Avenue from the southeast corner of the park.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.