At any moment during the day, there are thousands of people in Central Park — on its lawns, at its waters, in its woodlands — running, lounging, smelling flowers, playing games, and more. We set out to capture some of their stories and create a picture of the Park on an average day, through their eyes.
Jorge, a 24-year veteran of the Central Park Tennis Center, celebrates a great shot by a student while teaching a tennis lesson in the north end. He was eager to talk about his favorite part of his job in the Park.
“People come with their picnics, they eat, and they drink, and they watch. It’s beautiful. This is the tourist center of New York City,” Jorge says. If Jorge had it his way, the building’s small roof would be converted to an observation deck with tables and chairs, where visitors could watch the action on the courts below. For now, nearby benches and grass provide seating for onlookers.
On the bridle path near the Reservoir, duo Ginger and her owner Harriet take their daily stroll. “It’s a great place to walk Ginger. We’ve made many good friends here!” Harriet says. Ginger knows her route confidently and made for her usual exit near West 89th Street. She got to stay in the Park for a few extra minutes to have her picture taken — lucky dog!
"Music is good for the soul," says Mary as passersby slow their pace to hear music in front of the Dairy Visitor Center & Gift Shop. "It's great to be able to play outdoors and see others play as well. You never know who can play the piano until someone sits down." The piano is part of the Sing for Hope project that places artist-designed pianos throughout New York City’s parks and public spaces.
“I’m always training for something,” says Roberta, who was walking with 26 pounds in her trail pack. “That’s why she walks with me — because I’m slow!” Susan adds, laughing. (She wasn’t carrying any training weights in her handbag, she said.) The two make their venture weekly, though sometimes Roberta can be found off-roading through the north end.
Artist Xiaodeng kneels on a blanket while painting a watercolor portrait of his three friends sitting in folding chairs near the Delacorte Theater. He gives a slow, warm nod when asked for his picture, and says simply “Goodbye” after he’s photographed. The women, in contrast, chat animatedly and play games.
Judy, a Conservancy volunteer, works to prop up some roses in Shakespeare Garden after a storm drenched them overnight. “I was a gardener without a place to garden when I moved to New York. There’s nothing better than digging around in Shakespeare Garden,” she says. She’s been volunteering in Central Park for 12 years.
“I bring them here because I take them out of the stress of the City,” says Allisson of the dogs that he walks regularly. “Their favorite place is the Ramble. The dogs love being here. It helps them relax and get back to nature.” Happy, a Great Pyrenees, smiles and drools.
Gondolier Andres approaches Bethesda Terrace to pick up passengers. His vessel, Martina, was a gift from the City of Venice 35 years ago, and he himself has worked on the Lake since the mid-1990s. “I’ve seen hundreds of proposals,” he says. “My favorite thing? I love being outside, but everyone who gets on this boat is happy. They’re celebrating anniversaries, birthdays — I have a bride coming out this afternoon!”
Two brothers lean over the edge of Bethesda Fountain, looking into the water and playing with a stick. Their mother, with their baby sister strapped to her chest, cautions them as she looks on from the plaza. “There’s money in there!” Marcus says gleefully, as his little brother trots behind him.
“It’s the last day of our holiday,” Typhelle says. “And she wanted to see Alice! She loves her.” Elly-Sika is all smiles in her mommy-and-me matching jacket. “I was here before, maybe 2 or 3 years ago — but I didn’t see this side of the Park!” Behind them, dozens of children crowd the Alice in Wonderland statue. Elly-Sika bounds around as her mother speaks to her in French. “Au revoir!” Elly-Sika says, waving, as the two walk off toward the Lake hand in hand.