New York City – Free Travel 8: Walking Tours of Central Park

When the Europeans completely rebuilt Manhattan Island, in their human perspective, it’s amazing that they left any room for nature, as the centuries wore onward. This is shocking, as it did not bode well for any city not to have plenty of green places set aside for spirit, and to acknowledge other life has a place under the sun.

Looking at a map of New York City, I still think there are far too few parks and green spaces on Manhattan. But, New Yorkers are justifiably proud of Central Park. Its 6% of Manhattan’s acreage has probably saved the City, in many ways, many times.

Central Park is one of the urban wonders of the world, the only beautiful green oasis set in the concrete, high-rise landscape of New York City. It is now so naturally a part of the Manhattan environment, that many people do not realize that its 843 acres is entirely man-made.

Boating or watching wildlife on its 150 acres set aside for 7 ponds, walking through its 136 acres of woodlands (with 26,000 trees) or peacefully enjoying its 250 acres of lawns, New Yorkers can hope to have a piece of each day, or a chance on the week-end, to come to enjoy the park.

In fact, 25 million people use Central Park each year, and enclosed in its 6 mile perimeter are a multitude of scenic and spirit-renewing delights. On the walks, you can also enjoy the more than 250 species of birds, including migratory birds, as the Park is a major stopping point on the Atlantic flyway.

If you want to exercise on the Reservoir running track, each circuit is 1.58 miles. If you want to walk the pathways, under some of the 1,700 still-alive American Elms, then consider a free walking tour to scope out the park and find a favorite area.

Every day, Central Park opens 6am – 1:00am, (although I still would not be there at or after dusk!). Discover the history, ecology, and design of the park, on volunteer-led walking tours sponsored by the Central Park Conservancy.

Year-round, the Conservancy offers at least ten different walking tours which highlight several areas of Central Park. The guided walks last about 60 – 90 minutes. No reservation is required for individuals or groups of six or less. Groups of seven or more people must call to schedule a custom tour. Children under 16 must be accompanied by their parent(s) or a guardian. Learn more at: New York’s Central Park Guided Walking Tours.

Here are a few options:

Amble Through the Ramble – passes over streams, under arches, through the woods along a maze of pathways in this secluded 38-acre woodland respite.

The Castle & Its Kingdom – on the 55 acres dominated by Belvedere Castle, high on Vista Rock.

Cross-Park Promenade – see many surprises: a hidden bench that tells time, miniature boats powered by the wind, a magnificent sculpture celebrating fresh water, on this east-to-west walk.

Manhattan Adirondacks – Olmsted and Vaux designed the North Woods to replicate Adirondack Mountain forests’ crystal streams, tumbling cascades, and picturesque pools right in NYC.

A Road Once Traveled – in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, holding the Park’s northern highlands was key because armies could see their enemies approach, sailing on the East River. All who love History will love this tour of the Harlem Meer and its strategic environs.

For visitors seeking peace and tranquility in Central Park, there are six designated quiet zones: Strawberry Fields, Sheep Meadow, East Green (located at the northern end of the Dene), Conservatory Garden, Shakespeare Garden and Turtle Pond.

Alcohol is prohibited in all parks including Central Park. Any questions? Call: 212-360-2726

New York City Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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