Tips from Central Park's Volunteers

Our green-shirted volunteers are everywhere in Central Park: gardening, greeting visitors on foot and in kiosks, painting benches, and guiding visitors on walking tours. Each year, more than 400 regular volunteers—along with over 1,300 people who serve on corporate Park maintenance projects—help keep the Park clean and green. Volunteers contribute more than 59,000 hours annually to improve the Park.

With so much time spent in New York City’s backyard, volunteers quickly discover helpful tips and special spots, while learning the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Park. They’re sharing some of their favorite recommendations and insight for both new and everyday visitors.

We’re weeding—promise! Wendl Kornfeld, a volunteer Gardener’s Assistant for seven years, spends lots of time mulching, pulling weeds, planting, and completing other landscape maintenance projects in the Park. She shares the question she receives most from visitors: “Why are you destroying those beautiful yellow flowers?” Don’t worry—volunteers are weeding! Wendl explains: “That’s no flower, that’s the dreaded lesser celandine. They are noxious and invasive, despite their beautiful heart-shaped leaves and sunny blossoms. Sorry, but they gotta go!”

Lost? Here’s a helpful tip: If you’re lost in the Park, lampposts can help you find your way! Al Lewis, who volunteers as a Greeter in the Park, says this trick is one of the biggest surprises for visitors (and even lifelong New Yorkers). Check the four numbers on any lamppost base—the first two numbers indicate the nearest street (“60” would mean 60th Street) and the last two numbers designate whether you’re on the west or east side (odd number means west, even number means east). “When people learn this,” he says, “they are thrilled that they can maneuver around the Park on their own and feel confident to not get lost.”

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Next time you’re lost in Central Park, look at the base of any lamppost—the numbers designate the nearest street and whether you’re on the west or east side of the Park.

Looking for something new? Liz Mindlin has a walk that she still finds exhilarating, even after 10 years volunteering in the Park. “I always love walking through Inscope Arch toward the Pond,” she says. “You come from a congested, kind of commercial strip, then walk into a cool, quiet darkness with this beautiful light at the end of the tunnel—then break out into a peaceful landscape. Always find it exciting in some way. Like a new discovery each time.”

For film aficionados: Visitors often ask volunteers for help with finding popular movie locations. One of the most popular films among curious Parkgoers is Home Alone 2—and the key site that most people are searching for is Gapstow Bridge. Looking for another movie location in Central Park? Ask a friendly volunteer at a visitor center or information kiosk!

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Are you a fan of Home Alone 2? Relive movie magic by visiting Gapstow Bridge (East Side at 62nd Street), one of its most popular filming locations.

Interested in becoming a Central Park volunteer and uncovering your own tips and secrets? Browse our volunteer page to learn more about our various opportunities.