A Look Back: Improving Central Park in 2017

Did you know that the Conservancy has an in-house team of planning, design and preservation professionals who enhance Central Park year-round? From renovating your favorite landscapes to reconstructing historic elements you may have never seen before, we continue to enhance the Park for today’s (and tomorrow’s) visitors.

The Conservancy completed several restoration projects in 2017—read on to discover what has improved this year.

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The Loch in the Ravine, before and after renovations.

The Loch in the Ravine

Winding through the Ravine in the North Woods is the Loch, a watercourse that flows through a series of pools and cascades before emptying into the Harlem Meer. After decades of erosion, this waterbody had significantly narrowed and turned into a shallow stream. In January, we completed restoration of it. The Conservancy recreated elements of its historic design by re-establishing open pools of water and varying their depths to improve and diversify the habitat. Now, paired with beautiful new paths and rustic features, this spot is one of the most charming and peaceful places to visit in the Park.

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West 60th to West 62nd Street landscape, before and after renovations.

West 60th to West 62nd Street landscape and perimeter

The southwest corner of Central Park, anchored by Merchants’ Gate at Columbus Circle, is the most popular entrance to the Park with nearly 4 million visitors each year. We are renovating 14 acres within this area as part of a multi-year effort. This year, we completed restoration of the landscape, which included reconstructing paths, installing new benches and drinking fountains, and planting small specimen trees. We also reconstructed the perimeter from West 60th to West 62nd Street—allowing strolls to be a little smoother.

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The Gill in the Ramble, before and after renovations.

The Gill in the Ramble

Throughout 2017, we completed various work in the Park’s most popular woodland, the Ramble. Winding through the Ramble is the Gill, a man-made watercourse that flows into the Lake. We deepened the Gill’s course by removing accumulated sediments, but varied its depth and planted aquatics to improve habitat complexity. We also reconstructed surrounding paths, and restored rustic bridges and overlooks along the length of the Gill. This work has renewed the Ramble’s scenic character and diversified its habitat.

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The Ramble’s concrete bridge before renovations, and stone crossing after renovations.

Stone crossing in the Ramble

Using historic photos, we reconstructed a stone crossing that previously existed above the Gill before it was replaced by a concrete bridge in the 1930s. In preparation for the work, we photographed the area and carefully numbered the boulders below the concrete bridge before moving them. We also retrieved boulders that had long ago tumbled down the Gill. Visitors can now enjoy a scenic walk on this unique stone crossing.

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The 7th Regiment Memorial, during and after renovations.

7th Regiment Memorial

This memorial honors the 58 men of the 7th Regiment who died defending the Union during the Civil War. Over the summer, we applied a new protective coating to the statue, which prevents corrosion and other types of deterioration that are caused by exposure to the elements. This work was completed with the help of our summer conservation technicians.

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The Dene Slope, before and after renovations.

The Dene Slope

The Conservancy completed a multi-year effort to establish a wildflower meadow in the southeast area of Central Park. This native meadow, the Dene Slope, opened to the public in September. Previously a weedy, eroded hillside, this 1.25-acre area is now home to diverse native plantings and is the largest meadow of its kind in the Park. Our three-person rustic crew also built and installed a handcrafted bench made of black locust wood, a material historic to these types of structures in the Park. Visitors can now rest at the bench while taking in sweeping views.

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West 86th to West 90th Street perimeter, before and after renovations.

West 86th to West 90th Street landscape and perimeter

The restoration of this area just west of the Reservoir has revived it as an open, rolling greensward. We enhanced infrastructure, repaired paths, installed new furnishings, and added landscape plantings. We also reconstructed the perimeter sidewalk from West 86th to West 90th Street. (Did you know the Conservancy maintains the Park’s six-mile perimeter?) The West 86th Street entrance now provides an ADA-accessible route to the Reservoir and other key Park destinations.

Behind every landscape, monument, and structure in Central Park is a team of people improving it for today’s visitors—and the work is never done. Learn more about these projects (and the projects we have in store for 2018!) on our restoration site.

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