With its abundance of historical landmarks, iconic sites, and breathtaking landscapes—as well as the New York City skyline as a backdrop—Central Park has been the filming ground for hundreds of movies. In fact, it’s the most popular filming destination in the world. From just about anywhere in New York City’s 843-acre backyard, an establishing shot of the Park instantly becomes synonymous with the Big Apple.
Perhaps by now your mind is running like a film reel, rapidly scrolling through the many Central Park locations that have been featured in memorable scenes. What movies in Central Park first come to mind?
Read on for a handful of our favorite Park locations made famous on film. Then go even further behind the scenes on our Central Park Summer Movies Tour!
The Mall’s promenade—the only straight path in the entire Park—is flanked by two rows of American elm trees that bring a sense of peace and tranquility to any film. Consider Maid in Manhattan where Maria Ventura (Jennifer Lopez), a single mother trying to make ends meet by working as a maid in a first-class Manhattan hotel, and Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes), a New York politician, share an intimate conversation about a possible future while strolling along this iconic Central Park location. Interested in seeing how the Mall looked before the creation of the Conservancy? Follow Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) in Kramer vs. Kramer as he tries to squeeze time out of his busy workday to teach his son, Billy, how to bike.
No setting is more fitting for lovers of the romance genre than the elegant Bow Bridge. It’s the perfect place to reflect and wonder if “fairy tale” love can exist in the real world of NYC—a theme explored in the movie Enchanted. Channel your inner Princess Giselle and venture across Bow Bridge’s graceful arch to Bethesda Terrace...maybe while singing “That’s How You Know.”
Speaking of Bethesda Terrace, the heart of Central Park has been a centerpiece for a number of films. Consider the movie Marathon Man in which Thomas Levy (Dustin Hoffman) makes a brief stop at the Terrace before continuing his journey to other picturesque Park locations such as the Reservoir and the Delacorte Theater. More recently, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, gathered at Bethesda Terrace to determine what the future holds for the villainous Loki following his siege on the Big Apple in Marvel’s the Avengers.
If there is anything Cherry Hill can tell us, it’s that Central Park is ever-changing in its appearance and functionality much like the City itself. Central Park’s history could be described as a long, winding journey—something Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the Muppets gang can relate to in The Muppets Take Manhattan. In one scene on Cherry Hill, Miss Piggy spies on Kermit; her purse is stolen, and the porcine protagonist pursues the thief in roller skates to retrieve her belongings. Showing the dangers of crime and poverty that had befallen the Park during the 1970s and ’80s, this iconic location underwent massive transformations in large part due to the Conservancy’s efforts.
Garrett Chan is an editorial intern at the Central Park Conservancy.
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Tags: History / Art Lovers
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About the Conservancy
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Tags: Conservancy Staff / Pollinators / Nature Lovers / Landscapes
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Tags: Conservancy Staff / Monuments / History / Park Experts