Bow Bridge

One of the most iconic features of Central Park, Bow Bridge is renowned for its unique design as well as its setting.

Because of its low-lying and graceful curve that resembles the bow of an archer or violinist, it’s widely considered a masterpiece of Victorian-era design.

Created as one of the major entrances to the Ramble, and a connection to a path toward Bethesda Terrace, it’s a prominent spot that offers expansive views of the Lake and surrounding landscapes. It’s one of the most photographed Park features and one of the most romantic, serving as the site of numerous wedding proposals.

The Park Needs Us

Central Park is New York City’s backyard—and it needs all who visit to get involved in its care. Find out how you can help keep it a vital public treasure and thriving habitat.

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Central Park’s arches and bridges are an integral part of its circulation system. The Park’s designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, created an intricate system of pedestrian paths, a bridle path, and carriage drives to allow visitors to experience the Park’s landscapes in a variety of ways. However, for this system to work safely and in a relatively small space, it had to limit interactions between potentially conflicting forms of traffic. The Park’s arches and bridges separate this traffic by carrying one form of transportation over another.

Between 1859 and 1866, 27 arches and bridges were built in Central Park. All were designed by Vaux—in some cases with the assistance of fellow architect Jacob Wrey Mould. Each one is unique, designed with various materials and decorative motifs and with careful consideration of its placement in the landscape. Over time, six arches and bridges were added and three were removed, bringing the total to 30 ornamental bridges and arches in the Park today. There are also additional bridges in the Park’s woodlands that are smaller, constructed with wood, and typically cross over streams.

Quiet Moments at Bow Bridge

Enjoy this magnificent view of Bow Bridge, one of the Park’s most romantic spots, and its surroundings.

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Another key part of this circulation system are the transverse roads that allow City traffic to cross the Park. The transverse roads are sunken below the grade of the Park with bridges crossing over them. These bridges were designed as more utilitarian structures and weren’t intended to be seen—but they allow pedestrians and other traffic to seamlessly move through the Park. There are 13 transverse road bridges (one of which, Denesmouth, is also considered an ornamental bridge).

The bridge spans the Lake under a crisp, blue winter sky.

Give Back to the Park

Arches and bridges support every visitor’s journey through Central Park. You can support these integral structures by helping the Central Park Conservancy maintain them and the landscapes they hold.

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