Mid-Park Tour

Explore the middle of Central Park with stops at the Park’s miniature castle, a popular turtle hangout, and the oldest outdoor monument in New York City.

When Central Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux set out to create a great public space, they wanted visitors to forget the City around them. The middle of the Park offers various escapes like a majestic castle at great heights, aquatic wildlife, and ancient artifacts.

Visitors on the Mid-Park Tour will see a mix of naturalistic landscapes like Turtle Pond, right alongside historic features like Belvedere Castle and the ancient Obelisk (also called Cleopatra’s Needle).

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 half a mile long and should take about 30 minutes to complete.

Download a PDF. Also available in French and Spanish.