In the middle of Manhattan lies the city’s green heart: Central Park. This gigantic park offers picnic areas, playgrounds, ponds and sports fields. This is the place, in the middle of the busy city, where New Yorkers come to blow off steam. On Sunday, the roads in the park are closed and skaters, cyclists and joggers have the place to themselves.
Between 1821 and 1855, the number of inhabitants in New York quadrupled and there became a need for a large public park. It took another 16 years before Central Park was inaugurated 1871, but today this is one of the most pleasant areas in the city. Throughout all 4 seasons of the year, Central Park is a popular attraction for tourists and locals.
The park is used extensively year round. In summer, the park hosts many concerts (Summerstage) and plays (Shakespeare in the Park). The film festivals also draw crowds who watch movies on large outdoor screens. Bring a blanket and some snacks and enjoy a warm summer evening. In winter, thousands of New Yorkers don their ice skates for a spin on one of the two skating rinks in the park: the Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink. The Wollman Rink has been used as a set in many movies. There is nothing more romantic than skating with a view of the New York City skyline.
One of the best known and most visited places in the park is Strawberry Fields, the monument in memory of Beatles musician John Lennon. The mosaic with the lyrics of 'Imagine' (one of Lennon’s greatest solo hits) is directly across from the Dakota building on West 72nd Street. Lennon had an apartment here and was shot in the doorway of the building in 1980.
The bronze statue of Alice in Wonderland also attracts many (young) visitors. It shows Alice and a number of other characters from the well-known fairy tale, such as the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. The statue was designed in 1959 to let children experience the enchanting story of Lewis Carol. Unlike other monuments, children are allowed to climb and explore this sculpture to their heart's content. Looking for more romance? Reserve a gondola and paddle around the lake with your loved one.
Once inside the park it is difficult to fathom how big Central Park really is. Anyone who is not staying at the Plaza Hotel on the edge of the park can visit the Top of the Rock for a great view of the park. A fast lift whisks visitors to the viewing platform on the roof of the Rockefeller Center. Visit the lookout during the day; at night, the park is one big black hole among the twinkling lights of Manhattan.