Photos via Central Park Conservancy
The Belvedere in Central Park was conceived as a miniature castle by Calvert Vaux, co-designer of the park, in 1869. It opened with some of the best views of the city’s prized green space–the name Belvedere was chosen as it is Italian for “beautiful view.” But the years have taken their toll on the stone structure, which has not been renovated since 1983. Now the Central Park Conservancy will close it to address issues like cracked pavement, a leaky roof, and plumbing issues. Starting this Monday, February 26th, Belvedere Castle will be off-limits to the public for its restoration, and will not reopen until 2019.
Back in 2016, the Central Park Conservancy kicked off a 10-year, $300 million campaign to renovate the structures of the castle, as well as surrounding playgrounds. Closure of the castle was expected to happen last summer, but plans were pushed to this month.
According to the Conservancy, “this project will comprehensively address drainage, waterproofing, and climate control systems along with deterioration that has occurred over the last 35 years.” The work includes restoring the Belvedere’s interior and exterior masonry, expanding and modernizing mechanical systems and supporting utilities, replacing existing windows and doors, upgrading the interior and exterior lighting, and finally repairing and replacing interior floors and ceilings. The surrounding area, too, will get some TLC, as the Conservancy plans to restore the wood pavilions on the main plaza and upper terraces, and recreate a wood tower that was originally part of the large pavilion at the northwest corner.
A future phase of the project will include providing an accessible route to the Belvedere, which is one of the most heavily visited destinations in the Park. To do so, the Conservancy plans to realign the park paths between the East Drive and the castle.
The last renovation, in the 1980s, transformed the castle from a graffiti-covered ruin to the landmark we know today. These future plans will upgrade the structure even further. Surrounding playgrounds, like the Bernard Family Playground and Billy Johnson Playground, are getting upgraded as well.
The Central Park Conservancy was formed in 1980 as a nonprofit under contract with New York City to manage the park; today it’s made up of gardeners, arborists and horticulturists. The nonprofit has an annual budget of $65 million, 25 percent of which comes from the city, and the rest from private fundraising. Through these public-private partnerships, nearly $1 billion has been invested in Central Park to date.
- Central Park’s Belvedere Castle and two playgrounds to close for renovations this summer
- Suffering From Decay, Central Park Seeks $300M for Repairs and Restoration
- New Yorker Spotlight: Sara Cedar Miller and Larry Boes of the Central Park Conservancy