While the outside of the Belvedere Castle looks strong, the inside of the 146-year-old fortress is actually crumbling. The cracked pavement, leaking roof, and plumbing issues encouraged the Central Park Conservancy to start a 10-year $300 million campaign last summer to renovate its structures, as well as surrounding playgrounds. As DNAInfo reported, beginning at the end of this summer and early fall, the castle, the Bernard Family Playground, and the Billy Johnson Playground will be closed for reconstruction.
Via the Central Park Conservancy
Belvedere Castle on West 79th Street was built in 1842 and had its last restoration in the 1980s. Since then, a poor drainage system has resulted in standing water and iron-oxide staining, which has also worn down its wooden pavilions, terraces, and stairs. Major improvements to the castle include the following: a new drainage/waterproofing system, cleaned and reset masonry, restoration of the decorative wood tower, new pavement on its esplanade, window replacements, and a new bluestone ceiling and floor panels inside. Plus, the castle will become accessible by realigning the park paths between the East Drive and the castle. These upgrades will begin in the early fall and be completed in phases.
Central Park’s Bernard Family Playground, courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy
As part of the Conservancy’s “Plan for Play” program, all 16 playgrounds in the park that have not been rebuilt in a decade will be upgraded. Reconstructed by the Conservancy in 1991, the equipment of the Bernard Family Playground currently does not meet safety standards. This summer, swings will be replaced, an updated climber will be installed, and the entire playground will be repaved, adding new benches and planting.
The Billy Johnson Playground, photo via the Central Park Conservancy
Similarly, the Billy Johnson Playground predates accessibility and safety regulations that came after its construction in the early 1980s. A new water bollard will flow water to the stone bridge and feature spray jets around the bridge and amphitheater. Bucket swings will be replaced, and a new tire swing will be added. Plus, in addition to repaving the entire playground, rustic arbors, pergola and benches will be added.
The Central Park Conservancy was formed in 1980 as a nonprofit under contract with New York City to manage the park. Made up of gardeners, arborists, horticulturists, and more, the nonprofit has an annual budget of $65 million, 25 percent of which comes from the city, and the rest from private fundraising. store Through these public-private partnerships, nearly $1 billion has been invested in Central Park to date.
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