There’s someone who thinks it was born with New York or even that it be an example of how Manhattan had to be in the past, before that the skyscrapers, industrial spaces, large avenue and chaotic traffic would transform it in the most famous and fascinating city of the world.
What a mistake!
Central Park is the fruit of the commitment of two urban planners and architects, Frederck Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux who drew it, many engineers and about 20,000 workers who, in 16 years, starting from 1858, who worked to its transformation from a marshy swamp in a amazing public park, an oasis of peace and relaxation where to walk, spend your free time, play sports and meet friends.
An ambitious and innovative project, as the same Olmsted wrote… of great significance, being the first real park of this century, a democratic development of the highest importance.
After more than 150 years Central Park, with its 50,000 species of trees and plants, the nearly 60 acres of woods and meadows, 36 bridges, 25 playgrounds, 7 lakes, 20 km of trails and the many attractions and art works within it, is considered from all his visitors the Courtyard of New York.
The many successful films shot in it and the ability of New Yorkers to make it a special place and at the same time essential to their daily lives, have transformed it over the time in a real mythical place, the discovery of which it becomes essential for any visitor.
Though it is surprising in any season, for my experience Central Park offers its best in the fall, the magic moment, what many call foliage, where the warm, lit and intense colors like cognac, the burgundy and the yellow tinged the leaves of trees, plants and bushes making everything fascinating and melancholy.
The advice is to visit it in total autonomy, taking some time to explore the most significant parts and maybe get lost in some side path behind the sudden passage of a squirrel, the unusual performance of a street artist, the music of a violin or a little pond that reflects the outlines of a metropolis, a few steps from there, at that moment seems light years away.
Here are my favourite places, those that you must really see.
The Pond and the Wildlife Conservation Center
Starting from the south east of Central Park you meet after a few steps a lake, or perhaps I should call it The Pond, which offers some amazing views on the skyscrapers behind the park.
All around you can find the Coservation Wildlife Center, a protected area that host about 150 species of animals, a real natural oasis.
And not far you can find the Wollman Rink, the platform restored by Donald Tramp in the 80s, for ice skating.
The Literary Walk and the Bathesda Fountain
The only path in a straight line around the park is the Literary Walk (my absolute favorite place) surrounded by the statues of the great characters of literature, such as Shakespeare, Burns, Schiller, to name the most famous, and by wrought iron benches and old elms.
An idyllic backdrop, the perfect scenery to introduce the best known and most photographed place in Central Park, the Bathesda Fountain.
Anticipated by a spectacular roof terrace, the Bathesda Terrace, this beautiful fountain from ‘800 is nicknamed the Angel of Waters, in reference to the sculpture that you can see in its center.
Shortly after the entrance on 72nd St you get to the legendary Strawberry Fields, an entire area dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, culminating in his memorial.
This corner of the park was attended by the ex-Beatle who lived at the Dakota Building, the building across the street, where he was killed by a shot of a firearm in 1980. Even today there are many fans that pay homage with many flowers.
Too often overlooked by sightseeing, this lovely lake is used by the children in the summer to sail their boats sailing, but there is more.
Here you can find the statues of two unforgettable characters, one real and one fictional.
The statue of Hans Christian Andersen, writer of fairy tales, where in summer you can read and listen children’s stories and the statue of Alice in the Wonderland, along with the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse.
The Great Lawn
This wonderful lawn, between the 72nd and 86th street, the Great Lawn, was built around 1930 filling an old lake. An incredible space that contains several fields of basketball and baseball.
Not to far you can find also the Delacorte Theater with the Shakespeare Garden and the Belvedere Castle.
During the summer time the concerts of the New York Philharmonic and of the Metropolitan Opera are held here.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
The largest lake in New York around which was created a route, celebrated in several films, for fans of jogging.
Just a tip if you decide to follow the path … pay attention to the direction!!