There are 35 bridges and arches in Central Park – each one unique. Trefoil arch is, in a way, the most unique, as it’s the only one where each entrance to the passageway is shaped differently. The west-side arch is a round Roman one, while the east-side opening is the trefoil (three-lobed) one you see here.
Yes, it really looked like this! In fact, I had to turn down the saturation control a bit in my photo editor.
The trick to getting a photo like this is shooting at the right time on a sunny day. In this case, the right time was about 4pm this past Saturday, near the end of this month’s Central Park Photo Safari.
No, I’m not trying to say that Calvert Vaux, the co-designer of Central Park, was foolish; perish the thought!
In architecture, a folly is a building designed and constructed purely for the delight of those who behold it. Belvedere Castle is exactly that, and has delighted visitors to the Park since 1869.
Strictly speaking, an architectural folly is built for no practical purpose, but since 1919, the National Weather Service has operated a weather station at Belvedere Castle. You can just about make out some of the instruments, above the peak of the main turret, in this photo. So next time you’re in New York City and here a radio weatherperson says, “… and the temperature in Central Park is…”, you’ll know where it comes from.
Belvedere Castle is a major stop on my Central Park photo safaris, as the view from its ramparts is stunning. Also, the Castle itself, perched high on Vista Rock, is photo-worthy both from below and close-up.
Greetings to my colleague Anand, who I didn’t until yesterday, realize was following this blog. Anand, this one’s for you!
This large, elaborate Victorian fountain was designed and installed for the benefit of … horses!
You see, once Central Park was completed around 1870, up-and-coming young men would go speeding around the drives in the Park in their horse-drawn carriages (think Corvettes and Porsches.) This was foreseen by the architects of the Park, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux – in fact, that’s largely why they put the vehicle paths in the Park in the first place – for pleasure-driving.
On problem with the horse-and-carriage setup is that it’s very hard to back up; there’s no reverse gear on a horse, you know. So Olmsted and Vaux designed Cherry Hill on the south side of the Boat Lake with a circular drive, so that the carriages could enter in one direction and come out the other way. And while they were at it, why not let the horses take a break and have a drink? So that’s what the fountain, designed by the polymath Jacob Wrey Mould, was for. Mr. Mould contributed a number of other designs to the Park, including the sculptural details of the grand staircase at Bethesda Terrace.
No more horse-drinking, or human-drinking, for that matter is allowed at the fountain, but it still looks beautiful and works great. When I lived in Manhattan in the late 70′s, Cherry Hill was a mess, and the fountain was dry, chipped, and covered with graffiti. Thanks to the Central Park Conservancy, along with a gift from Elizabeth and Clement Moore, the fountain and its operation has been fully restored since 1998.
There are lots of great views in Central Park, but the best, in my opinion is from Vista Rock, site of Belvedere Castle. This is looking northeast from the Castle, overlooking Turtle Pond and the edge of the Great Lawn, with the buildings of Fifth Avenue in the East 80′s just beyond the Park.
At 130 feet, Vista Rock is the second-highest elevation in the Park. Only Summit Rock, near 83rd Street and Central Park West, is higher; but I would say the view from there is not as dramatic.
On this beautiful Saturday in the Park, as on most sunny days in late spring and summer, the turtles (red-eared sliders, from what I could tell through my telephoto lens) were sunning themselves on the rocks at the periphery of Turtle Pond, far below.
Join me on my next photo safari in Central Park on October 22, 2011! Along with over 30 other fascinating and photogenic features in the Park, we’ll be standing right here – only this time, the trees will be wearing their fall colors, adding another dimension to this scene.
I’ll get to the free offer in just a minute, but first, let me tell you that I’m very excited about our upcoming Central Park Photo Safaris this summer! I think this will be our best NYC safari yet – we’ll visit more than 15 of the most photogenic features of the Park during our three-hour Saturday afternoon tours.
Our first stop will be Strawberry Fields, an intimate haven just inside the park set aside as a memorial to John Lennon. From there, we’ll circumnavigate The Lake to take advantage of panoramic views with the elegant skylines of Central Park West or Fifth Avenue in the background.
We’ll “get lost” in The Ramble, a bucolic, forested tract with a picturesque stream and rustic bridges where, for the moment, you can imagine that the city is far away.
Finally, we’ll arrive at Bethesda Terrace, an iconic, romantic plaza that you’ll recognize from countless movies. We’ll explore the Terrace from the grand sweep of its monumental staircases to the intricate carvings of honeybees and birds along its steps.
It will be a journey that will delight your sense of color, texture, and proportion as well as refresh your spirit.
Special Offer – an Additional Hour in Central Park… FREE!
I know you’ll enjoy our Central Park Photo Safari so much that you’ll wish it wouldn’t end. Well, I can’t make that happen, but I will give you an extra hour, for a total of four hours, absolutely free when you register for the tour.
Register at the Washington Photo Safari links below for the Central Park Photo Safari that suits your calendar best:
The additional FREE hour will be from 4pm to 5pm as we head south from Bethesda Terrace through some of the best-known areas of the Park:
- The Mall, a tree-lined promenade, past statues of famous poets and writers.
- Wolman Rink, a famous landmark seen in movies, including Love Story and Serendipity
- Gapstow Bridge, a romantic stone arch in a rustic setting that contrasts with the skyline beyond
We’ll end at Grand Army Plaza, among the horses and the carriages that they pull through the Park and across the street from the Plaza Hotel.
The additional hour is totally optional, of course, but I hope you’ll take advantage of the free offer. Once you register at the Washington Photo Safari links above, I’ll send you an email confirming your free additional hour.
See you there!