Central Park - Activities

Activities

  • Birding: A wooded section of the park called "The Ramble" is popular among birders. Many species of woodland birds, especially warblers, may be seen in The Ramble in Spring and Fall.
  • Boating: Rowboats and kayaks are rented on an hourly basis at the Loeb Boathouse, which also houses a restaurant overlooking the Lake. As early as 1922, model power boating was popular on park waters.
  • Carriage horses: the carriage horse industry, revived in New York City in 1935, has been featured in various films; the first female carriage driver, Maggie Cogan, appeared in a newsreel in 1967. The ethics of this tradition and the effects on horse health and well being have been questioned by various animal rights activists.
  • Pedicabs: Pedicabs operate mostly in the southern part of the park, the same part as horse carriages.
  • Sports: Park Drive, just over 6 miles (9.7 km) long, is a haven for runners, joggers, bicyclists, and inline skaters. Most weekends, races take place in the park, many of which are organized by the New York Road Runners. The New York City Marathon finishes in Central Park outside Tavern on the Green. Many other professional races are run in the park, including the recent, (2008), USA Men's 8k Championships. Baseball fields are numerous, and there are also courts for volleyball, tennis, croquet and lawn bowling.
    • Rock Climbing: Central Park's glaciated rock outcroppings attract climbers, especially boulderers; Manhattan's bedrock, a glaciated schist, protrudes from the ground frequently and considerably in some parts of Central Park. The two most renowned spots for boulderers are Rat Rock and Cat Rock; others include Dog Rock, Duck Rock, Rock N' Roll Rock, and Beaver Rock, near the south end of the park.
    • Ice Skating: Central Park has two ice skating rinks, Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink, which converts to an outdoor swimming pool in summer.
  • Central Park Carousel: the current carousel, installed in 1951, is one of the largest merry-go-rounds in the United States. The fifty-eight hand-carved horses and two chariots were made by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein in 1908. The carousel originally was installed in Coney Island in Brooklyn.
  • Playgrounds: Central Park has twenty-one playgrounds for children located throughout the park, the largest, at 3 acres (12,000 m2), is Heckscher Playground named for August Heckscher.
  • Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre: located in the Swedish Cottage. The building was originally a model schoolhouse built in Sweden. Made of native pine and cedar, it was disassembled and rebuilt in the U.S. as Sweden's exhibit for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Frederick Law Olmsted moved the cottage to its present site in 1877.
  • Central Park Zoo: The Central Park Zoo is one of four zoos, and one aquarium, managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The zoo is home to an indoor rainforest, a leafcutter ant colony, a chilled penguin house, and a Polar Bear pool.
  • Entertainment
    • Each summer, the Public Theater presents free open-air theatre productions, often starring well-known stage and screen actors. The Delacorte Theater is the summer performing venue of the New York Shakespeare Festival. Most, although not all, of the plays presented are by William Shakespeare, and the performances are generally regarded as being of high quality since its founding by Joseph Papp in 1962.
    • The New York Philharmonic gives an open-air concert every summer on the Great Lawn, and the Metropolitan Opera presents two operas. Many concerts have been given in the park including Barbra Streisand, 1967; The Supremes, 1970; Carole King, 1973; Bob Marley & The Wailers, 1975; America, 1979; Elton John, 1980; the Simon and Garfunkel reunion, 1981; Diana Ross, 1983; Garth Brooks, 1997; the Dave Matthews Band, 2003; Bon Jovi, 2008; and Andrea Bocelli, 2011. Since 1992, local singer-songwriter David Ippolito has performed almost every summer weekend to large crowds of passers-by and regulars and has become a New York icon, often simply referred to as "That guitar man from Central Park." In the summer of 1985, Bruce Springsteen planned to hold a free outdoor concert on the Great Lawn; however, the idea was scrapped when it was purported that any free show held by Springsteen would bring an estimated 1.3 million people, crippling the park and the nearby neighborhoods.
    • Each summer, City Parks Foundation offers Central Park Summerstage, a series of free performances including music, dance, spoken word, and film presentations. SummerStage celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2010. Throughout its history Summerstage has welcomed emerging artists and world renowned artists, including Celia Cruz, David Byrne, Curtis Mayfield, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars, and Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer winner Toni Morrison, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Pulitzer winner Junot Diaz, Vampire Weekend, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, and many more.
    • With the revival of the city and the park in the new century, Central Park has given birth to arts groups dedicated to performing in the park, notably Central Park Brass, which performs an annual concert series and the New York Classical Theatre, which produces an annual series of plays.

Central Park was home to the famed New York City restaurant Tavern on the Green which was located on the park's grounds at Central Park West and West 67th Street. Tavern on the Green had its last seating on December 31, 2009 before closing its doors.

Central Park was home to the largest concert ever on record. Country Superstar Garth Brooks performed a free concert in August 1997. About 980,000 attended the event, according to the FDNY.

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