Central Park: Urban Oasis

Central Park: Urban Oasis

A few years ago, I took my son on a bus trip to New York City for his birthday. We had one must-see destination, and not a lot of extra cash.

The must-see destination was the Museum of Modern Art, which I will write about in a separate post. The main point is that I did not have a lot of cash to spend on sightseeing. The bus let us off at Central Park, so we decided to do a little exploring before heading to the museum. What we could see of the park at first glance was very pretty, and after all, it was free. That was a magic word in a city so expensive it’s a wonder they don’t charge you to breathe.

The park occupies quite a big space in Manhattan – 843 acres, to be exact. In a city where space is obviously at a premium, it’s a wonder that the park hasn’t been scaled back and encroached upon. But ever since it was established as a park in 1857, it has held on to that mass of land in the middle of the island. And thank goodness!

Take a look at this picture I took of Central Park from the sidewalk.


You can’t even tell that it’s in the middle of a bustling metropolis. In other locations throughout the park, the city is more visible, providing an interesting contrast between the bucolic and the urban:


But it’s more than just trees and water. Here are just a few of the things you can see in Central Park:

  • 29 sculptures by noted artists, including Balto and Alice in Wonderland
  • Cleopatra’s Needle, one of three obelisks dating from around 1450 BC that were originally erected at the Temple of Ra in ancient Egypt (the other two are in Paris and London)
  • Strawberry Fields, a section of the park dedicated to the memory of former Beatle John Lennon
  • A carousel with 58 hand carved horses
  • The Central Park Zoo
  • 21 different playgrounds for children
  • Tavern on the Green restaurant
  • 2 ice skating rinks
  • Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre
  • Free music concerts and dramatic presentations
  • Multiple rock outcroppings like the one below:


The park really is one of the most impressive things you can see in New York City, and that is a very long list! The temptation when visiting NYC is to hit all of the big city sights – Times Square, The Met, Empire State Building, MoMA, Guggenheim, Radio City, etc. – but I really recommend taking some time to visit the park too. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place for a much-needed time out.

Central Park is centrally located in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, NY. Telephone 212.310.6600. You may obtain a map of the park online or at any of their visitor centers. 


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