The fort landscape in the northeastern section of Central Park was a strategic military spot as far back as 1776. During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington rode through the area to defend against invading British forces. The British seized the hills and occupied the area for seven years. After the British decamped, the area lay peaceful until the War of 1812. Anticipating a British invasion, over 200 American volunteers hastily built a network of military fortifications to guard McGowan’s Pass and the City below.
Visitors on the Fort Landscapes Tour will take a walk through history, stopping at Fort Clinton, Nutter’s Battery, and the Blockhouse among other centuries-old spots.
Constructed from 1857 to 1873, Central Park is a unique and long-recognized masterpiece of landscape architecture. For Olmsted and Vaux, the Park was a “single unified work of art,” where visitors could experience varied, but seamlessly connected landscapes. Like every other work of art, the Park is entirely man-made. Its only natural feature is the metamorphic rock, called Manhattan schist, that’s approximately 450 million years old. To create the Park’s naturalistic lakes and streams, low-lying swamps were drained; to create the Park’s vast, undulating meadows, swampland was filled with soil, and rock outcrops were leveled with gunpowder; to create the Park’s three woodland areas, barren rock-strewn slopes were planted with millions of trees, shrubs, and vines.
As you walk along the Park’s paths, notice how scenery changes with the weather conditions and times of day. Come back throughout the year and marvel at the difference that seasonal foliage and vegetation bring to each carefully composed landscape.
This tour is roughly one and a half miles and should take about 90 minutes to complete.