When Central Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux set out to create a great public space, they wanted it to feel like a natural landscape in New York City’s backyard. The Ramble was key to that plan—a maze of walking paths beside the Lake with flora and fauna, as well as hundreds of species of birds—inspired by the wild Adirondacks.
Visitors on the Ramble Tour will see various water ways, lakes and ponds, plus the famous, romantic Bow Bridge, which leads from the Ramble to Bethesda Fountain. On the northern edge of the Ramble, the wild naturalistic landscape opens onto Belvedere Castle.
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 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.