Photo via PxHere
For avid runners and beginners alike, New York City offers a wide range of places to hit the pavement, from its iconic bridges to green trails nestled in the city’s parks. The scenic routes provide unbeatable views of the river and skyline that can keep you motivated to keep going when you’re ready to give up. Ahead, we round up the 10 most iconic spots to go for a run in the city, fit for regular marathoners, treadmill-devotees looking for a change of scenery, and total newbies.
Lace up those sneakers…
This summer marks the 33rd SummerStage to take place in Central Park, but this year, NYC’s largest, free outdoor performing arts festival has a completely revamped and reconceptualized venue to the tune of $5.5 million. The event, hosted by the City Parks Foundation, is comprised of 100 performances in 17 neighborhood parks throughout the city, but the flagship venue in Central Park is certainly the headliner. After 20 years, the 5,500-person space has a new stage with 20 percent more capacity and updated technology, along with a new circulation pattern meant to enhance the guest experience, new member and VIP viewing platforms, new concession areas, and more.
Go behind the scenes before the venue opens this weekend
All of the images in this post are included in “The Central Park: Original Designs for New York’s Greatest Treasure,” and are courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.
There are few things as beautiful as a sunset in Central Park, standing beside the reservoir at 90th Street, looking west, and watching the sun sink behind the San Remo then glitter through the trees on the park’s horizon, and finally melt into the water, its colors unspooling there like ink. That view, one of so many available in the park, can be credited to the meticulous planning by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, whose extraordinary vision made Central Park one of the finest urban oases on earth.
“The Central Park: Original Designs for New York’s Greatest Treasure,” a new book by Cynthia S. Brenwall, out now from the NYC Department of Records, offers a closer look at that lanning process than ever before. Using more than 250 color photos, maps, plans, elevations, and designs — many published here for the very first time — the book chronicles the park’s creation, from conception to completion, and reveals the striking “completeness” of Olmsted and Vaux’s vision. “There was literally no detail too small to be considered,” Brenwall says. You’ll see the earliest sketches of familiar structures, and check out plans for unbuilt amenities (including a Paleozoic Museum!) 6sqft caught up with Brenwall to find out how the book came together, hear what it was like to cull through those incredible documents and snag a few secrets of Central Park.
Background image: Shinya Suzuki via Flickr
Spring is officially here, and there’s no better place to confirm the good news than Central Park, where the season brings a burst of color to every corner of the park’s 840 acres. Warmer weather brings beautiful blooms and a flurry of activities and events along with photogenic landscapes. The park’s Spring Guide has all you need to know about the park’s prettiest places to visit; a handy map points out where the blooms are, and you can search for your favorites and learn more about them. There are also events for families, Conservancy members and the general public that will help you make the best of the season’s beauty.
Where the blooms are, this way
The Arsenal c. 1914, via Library of Congress
New York City boasts more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities covering upwards of 14 percent of the land across all five boroughs. This sprawling network of greenery falls under the jurisdiction of the NYC Parks Department. Once the storied provenance of Robert Moses, the Department functions today under the less-Machiavellian machinations of Mitchell Silver. Though no longer the fiefdom it once was, Parks still operates out of a medieval fortress known as the Arsenal, a commanding bulwark stationed in Central Park at 5th Avenue and 64th Street.
The Arsenal also houses the Arsenal Gallery, the City Parks Foundation, the Historic House Trust, and the New York Wildlife Conservation Society. This wide array of agencies reflects the varied legacy of building itself. Since construction began on the Arsenal 1847 (completed 1851), it has served a stunning array of purposes, from police station to menagerie to weather bureau. The Arsenal has had time to live so many lives: it is one of just two buildings in Central Park that predate the park itself, which was established in 1857.
Hear more history of this historic headquarters!
While it’s been a snow-free winter in NYC so far, once in a while it’s nice to imagine a snowy January day in Central Park. Ephemeral New York brings us a particularly charming example of how New Yorkers found a reason to socialize even in frozen conditions two centuries ago. Sleigh carnivals turned out scores of joyriding city folk who wanted to show off their new super-light rides. James Stuart wrote in his 1833 UK travel memoir, “Three Years in North America,” that after a heavy January snow, “the New York carnival began, and the beautiful light-looking sleighs made their appearance. Even the most delicate females of New York think an evening drive, of 10 or 20 miles, even in the hardest frost, conducive to their amusement and health.”
Sleigh bells ring
Photo by Tia Richards for 6sqft
The official design of the first statue of non-fictional women in Central Park was unveiled last summer. The statue, a sculpture of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, is set to be dedicated on August 18, 2020, marking the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote nationwide. Terrific, right? Not completely. Because, as the New York Times informs us, some women’s rights advocates feel the statue doesn’t show the whole story. One complaint: Stanton and Anthony were white. Included in the statue’s design, a list of women who aided in the cause contains a significant number of African-American women. Why weren’t any of them chosen to be the face of women’s contributions to social equality?
Gloria Steinem weighs in, this way
A carriage near Central Park South, amongst traffic, via Flickr cc
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur F. Engoron ordered Tuesday that Mayor De Blasio can’t “take any action or inaction that would interfere” with the horse carriages operating in Central Park until a subsequent court order is issued, according to the New York Daily News. The court order is the result of a complaint filed in October by horse carriage hack Giovanni Paliotta, whose attorney says the process was being done in the wrong order: New rules regarding the carriages should come from the City Council rather than the mayor, and legislation should be passed.
Find out more
Goat carriages in Central Park via Library of Congress
1930s New York brought us many things: Superman, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Joe DiMaggio, and, of course, goat beauty pageants in Central Park. Following the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the Brewer’s Board of Trade was eager to revive the springtime tradition of Bock Beer festivals and put out an appeal for the most gorgeous goats in Gotham. The goats would go horn to horn in beauty pageants in Central Park to claim the title of “Mr. Manhattan,” and the right to return to the park for regional competitions to determine which beautiful Billy Goat would be “Mr. Bock Beer,” the brewer’s mascot, and the face of ubiquitous bock beer advertisements.
Get more Goats here!
A new map from the Central Park Conservancy includes lots of new information about the park’s playgrounds, trails, restrooms, entertainment areas and other spaces that decodes the park for people with disabilities and/or limited mobility. Helpful information includes information on park terrain, letting visitors know how steep various trails are, and where there are stairs or other potential obstacles.
Full map, this way