Central Park Vistas and Strawberry Fields Tour
Central Park: An oasis in the heart of the metropolis. A bucolic respite from the mile-a-minute bustle of Gothams sprawl, complete with winding paths, rolling hills, fountains, lakes, ponds, athletic fields, even an open-air theater; Central Park truly is the urban miracle that brought a gruff business town like New York into the stature of a world-class city.
History of Central Park
All great cities have great parks! Why should New York be any different? That’s what the city officials were saying in the late 1850’s as New York was fast becoming the financial capital of the world, yet lacking in free, public recreation. In the 1850s two massively influential New Yorkers: newspaper publisher William Cullen Bryant and landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing led the campaign to build a massive park at the heart of Manhattan Island. Everyone assumed Downing would be the man to design the park, but his untimely death in 1852 left the position open to newcomers.
“All great cities have great parks!” The words of Bryant and Downing
New York held a competition to design what would become the largest man-made park in the world, and the winners were two novices: British architect Calvert Vaux and amateur botanist Frederick Law Olmstead. A little peculiar that an amateur botanist received a contract for the most ambitious urban landscaping project in the world? Just don’t ask to see his resume! (wink wink) They started work on the massive park in 1858.
Vaux & Olmstead: The men who turned a vision into a reality.
The two men created an oasis in the center of a bustling metropolis, complete with Victorian gardens, grandiose fountains, long and winding paths to stimulate the imagination and parade grounds where New Yorkers could for the first time – relax! The project wasn’t without it’s doubters and nay-sayers though… Many of the more gruff, conservative businessmen of New York didn’t want to “waste” so much valuable real estate on something that could never turn a profit. “Nature!” They would say “If you want nature, go to the countryside! This is New York!”
Understandably, this thinking didn’t consider the poor masses of the city who did not have the luxury to “holiday” in the countryside. After Central Park opened, it was merely short trolley-car ride and a picnic lunch in tow to appreciate a peaceful Sunday with trees, birds and fresh-air to rejuvenate them for the week.
This also meant, for the very first time, the wealthy aristocrats of 5th ave might find themselves walking down the same paths as a poor immigrant family of six on a refreshing spring morning, look each other in the eye and say “A fine day to you, sir!” Central Park opened up the mind-blowing idea of equality to New York City!
When Olmstead first began his work on the park, many people doubted his vision and lack of expertise but by the time the park opened to the public in 1873, it was hailed as an urban miracle and Olmstead had already launched on his career as America (and Canada’s) pre-eminent landscape architect (A term that he coined.)
Most Olmstead Parks bear his signature of rolling hills, winding paths and the beautiful randomness of nature. But Central Park, his first bears the icons recognized the world around: the elegant Victorian splendor of the Bethesdah terrace and fountain, the childish whimsy of the conservatory pond and children’s sculptures, the medieval evocation of the Belvedere Castle and hundreds of acres more to lose yourself in the most romantic and idyllic place in this vast city of ours!
Central Park! Where there’s always something magnificent to enjoy!
Tour Central Park and enjoy a green oasis in the midst of NYC’s urban jungle.
Visit The Dakota, a German-Renaissance masterpiece built as a magnificent apartment building with hotel amenities, as well as formerly home to Judy Garland, Leonard Bernstein Boris Karloff, Lauren Bacall, Paul Simon and the Beatles’ John Lennon, as well as the site where he was tragically murdered. Currently home to Connie Chung, her husband Maury Povich and the soul singet Roberta Flack.
Then head into Strawberry Fields to pay respects to the great musician and peace activist Lennon at the Imagine mosaic. Our Central Park walking tour also visits Bethesda Fountain, the Literary Walk, Belvedere Castle, Tavern on the Green, Central Park Carousel, the Central Park Zoo, the Conservatory Boat pond, the beloved Alice in Wonderland statue and more.
Our Central Park walking tour also includes sites from movies like:
Home Alone 2, Big Daddy, Spider-Man, Enchanted, Sex and the City, 27 Dresses, Ransom, The Avengers, Mr. Deeds, and more.
See the locations from all these great movies and MORE on our Central Park walking tour!