Central Park designers Olmsted and Vaux named this man-made water body "the Meer" — Dutch for "lake." It memorialized the former separate village of Harlem that was settled in the 17th Century by European settlers and included the upper regions of Central Park.
Today, families flock to this area for catch-and-release fishing, skating and swimming at Lasker Rink and Pool, and exploration at two nearby playgrounds. The Harlem Meer is also a thriving wildlife habitat and home to fish, turtles, and waterfowl. Several varieties of trees, including oak, bald cypress, beech and gingko, surround it.
On the northern shore of the Meer stands the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, a visitor center run by the Central Park Conservancy. The Center hosts free community programs, exhibits, and holiday celebrations including the popular Halloween Pumpkin Sail and winter Holiday Lighting. There's also live music on the plaza in the summer at the Harlem Meer Performance Festival.