Restoring Central Park in 2018

All year long, the Conservancy's team of historians, designers, planners, and architects works to improve Central Park's beloved landscapes, playgrounds, sculptures, and more.

Curious what restoration projects we completed in 2018? Read on to discover what we've enhanced this year.

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Paths in the Ramble, before and after restorations.

The Ramble

Central Park co-designer Frederick Law Olmsted described the 36-acre Ramble as a "wild garden" intended to evoke a sense of intricacy and mystery. Our recently completed restoration of the Ramble's paths, landscape, and infrastructure has renewed its scenic character, enhanced its habitat value, and improved the visitor experience to this urban woodland landscape.

Our work included rebuilding aging paths and infrastructure, improving soils, removing invasive species, re-establishing native plant communities, and restoring the Gill and many rustic bridges and overlooks. Future enhancements will include restoring the Ramble's existing rustic shelter and recreating three additional open-air shelters that once existed at high points in the landscape.

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Bernard Family Playground’s water feature, before and after reconstruction.

Bernard Family Playground

Our reconstruction of Central Park's smallest playground included adding new and enhanced play features and meeting current accessibility and safety standards. We reconfigured the swing area, replaced swings and the post-and-platform climber, introduced a new sandbox with an accessible sand table, constructed a user-active water spray feature that is interactive and conserves water, and added plantings.

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Statue atop Lehman Gates, during and after restorations.

Lehman Gates

The Lehman Gates greet visitors to the Tisch Children's Zoo in the southeast corner of Central Park. The whimsical sculpture atop the Lehman Gates was designed by Paul Manship, the acclaimed American sculptor who is best known for Prometheus at Rockefeller Center.

Earlier this year, the Conservancy applied a new protective coating to the sculpture, part of an ongoing program of work to maintain the Park's collection of statues and monuments. Learn how this project inspired a deeper consideration of Manship's body of work in Central Park, which includes the Osborn Gates and Group of Bears.

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East 84th to East 85th Street perimeter, before and after restorations.

East 84th to East 85th Street Perimeter

Central Park's six-mile perimeter was conceived as a tree-lined promenade and transitional space between New York City and the Park. Large sections of the Park perimeter have not been reconstructed for decades. In these areas, the walkways are uneven and prone to drainage problems because of many decades of settling and deterioration.

We are reconstructing pavements in several areas around the Park, and prioritizing and advancing work based on existing conditions throughout the perimeter's entirety. This year, we replaced existing pavements and curbs, reconstructed pedestrian ramps, and installed new benches from East 84th to East 85th Street, a stretch of the Park’s perimeter that's just south of the Reservoir.

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Billy Johnson Playground, before and after restorations.

Billy Johnson Playground

Billy Johnson Playground, one of Central Park's most beloved play spaces, recently reopened after a complete renovation. The Conservancy recreated play elements that were lost over time and added fun, new features. The playground's most popular attraction is the 45-foot granite slide that runs along a large outcrop on the northern edge. There is now a second granite slide; the new, smaller slide is accessible and can accommodate younger visitors.

We also replaced bucket swings, added a new tire swing, created a more extensive rustic pergola in the swing area, and more. See what else is new at Billy Johnson Playground.

Want to learn more about how we care for Central Park? Our restoration section contains progress updates on current projects, details on past and future work, and never-before-seen photos of your favorite landscapes and landmarks.