Although today the Park's largest lawn without ballfields features people it was originally the home to a flock of pure bred sheep from 1864 until 1934. The sheep and shepherd were housed in a fanciful Victorian building nearby, what became the famous Tavern on the Green restaurant in 1934.
The 1858 design competition for Central Park required a parade ground for military drills, and winning landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux reluctantly included the parade ground in their Greensward plan. The Park's Commissioners and designers ultimately felt that military use conflicted with their vision of the Park as a quiet escape.
In the 1960s and 70s, Sheep Meadow became the scene for large-scale concerts, the televised landing on the moon, peace rallies and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations. But these events, and the lack of management and maintenance, led to the lawn becoming severely eroded — a virtual dustbowl. In 1980, it was restored and has been maintained by The Central Park Conservancy ever since. The meadow became the Park's first Quiet Zone, which means it's the perfect place to relax and unwind. Sheep Meadow attracts thousands of visitors, who gather to sunbathe, picnic, fly kites, and enjoy this pastoral escape, free from the hustle and bustle of New York City, but with one of the best views of Manhattan's famous skyline.
West Side from 66th to 69th Streets.
- Open mid-April though mid-November
- Everyday: 11am until dusk
- Quiet Zone (dogs are prohibited at all times; no bikes; no organized, active recreation or sports allowed; headphones required for radios)