Great Lawn

Great Lawn

At the precise geographical center of Central Park is one of the most famous lawns in the world: the 55-acre Great Lawn. Visitors can relax, play on the open green fields, or bring a few friends for a game of baseball.

The Great Lawn is a prime spot for baseball enthusiasts, picnickers, sunbathers, and families... but few know that this famous green was once completely underwater.

Between 1842 and 1931, the area housed the York Hill receiving reservoir, part of the system that first gave New York City fresh water. It was a huge breakthrough for public health but frustrated Olmsted and Vaux, co-designers of the Park, who detested the aesthetics of the its harsh rectangular shape.

Eventually the old water system became obsolete and the reservoir was decommissioned in 1931. Various proposals were submitted to transform the site into a World War I memorial, a sports arena, airport landing pads, an opera house, or a vault to store motion pictures. Instead, it became the pastoral vision of green space that Olmsted and Vaux had always desired.

The lush oval opened in 1937, and the baseball diamonds were added two decades later. In the 1980s, the Great Lawn became a music-lover’s paradise, hosting appearances from Simon and Garfunkel, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic. Without the proper maintenance, these events left the lawn near-destroyed and it became “the Great Dust Bowl.”

The Central Park Conservancy restored its original lushness in 1997. Today, it's filled with visitors of all ages who come to enjoy the green expanse, views of the New York City skyline, and perhaps even the chance to hit a home run.

Location

Mid-Park at 79th-85th Streets

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Hours

The Great Lawn closes for the winter season to allow the lawn to rest.

Restrooms

No