Central Park Touring, some recommendations
Posted: Nov 24, 2015 | 4:58 PM
by Jared Goldstein
To paraphrase Andy Warhol: "You can put a little of the country in New York City, but you can't put a little of the city in the country."
One can write a book* about Central Park, its symphony of colors and picturesque views, sometimes with the exciting backdrop of the skyline; its amazing history; the over 300 movies and shows filmed there; its gorgeous architecture and landscaping (it is the birthplace of American Landscape Architecture); how the park is a glorification of NYC's pristine water system; and how a visit to Central Park is like little visits to China, Japan, and Italy.
My favorite part of the park is the middle: Belvedere Castle, the Ramble, Strawberry Fields, Cherry Hill, the Great Lake, Bethesda Fountain, Conservatory Waters / Boat Pond, and the Mall. I also like the southern end, and I like the the top of the northern end's Meer, Huddlestone Arch, and the Blockhouse. You can make a tour out of the sights that I listed.
Here's a tip: most of the light posts have four digits on them. The first two digits indicate what street that part of the park is near. For example, 7209 would be near 72nd Street if you stepped out of the park. However, unlike most of Manhattan, Central Park is 'off the grid,' so I recommend preparing yourself with a map and/or an app.
If you google "Central Parks Conservancy" you can get a map and an app. That website also has blurbs about each of the sights I listed. That site also offers affordable tours on their own schedules, or you can hire me.
If you are really enamored with the "Park of the People" "the Emerald Jewel of New York," "the Center of New York City," or "the Lungs of the City," read some of Sara Cedar Miller's *books about Central Park. The Central Parks Conservancy that she works for has raised $750 million to save and enhance the park, and it funds around 80% of the park's annual budget. They know what they are doing and talking about.
If you like birds, come early. The Boat House has a log of the 700 species that have been sighted. Sunsets are beautiful.
Don't go at night unless you are attending a special event, and, if so, stay with the crowd. Speaking of crowds, the park gets crowded on weekends when it is full of New Yorkers, so try a weekday, but if you can't, the weekend is still wonderful and you get to see New Yorkers playing congas, bicycling like maniacs, or recreating with their families.
Central Park is great right after a snowfall. The outdoor skating rink near 65th Street and 5th Ave has wonderful views in the winter, and is much larger than Rockefeller Center's rink.
Note: during winter, there are fewer bathrooms available in the areas that don't have concessions.
The Central Park Loeb Boat House has a great, affordable snack bar cafe. In warm weather you can rent a rowboat!
Central Park is as indispensable to the NYC experience as the Subway, the Skyline, and the Brooklyn Bridge.