Glen Span Arch

Glen Span Arch is a rustic stone arch that marks the western boundary of the woodland landscape known as the Ravine.

It carries the West Drive over the water body known as the Loch and the main pedestrian path through the Ravine.

While not as rustic as Huddlestone Arch at the other end of the Ravine, Glen Span Arch’s construction—with large rough-hewn stones taken from the surrounding rocky landscape—was intended to blend in with the surrounding woodland landscape (like the Ramble Stone Arch).

The upper portion of the bridge was originally constructed in wood, making it the only wood bridge to carry the weight of the carriage drive. It soon deteriorated and was replaced with stone in 1885.

Stroll in the Ravine

With meandering paths, a dense canopy of trees, and cascading waterfalls, the Ravine evokes the wilderness of the Adirondacks.

View with audio description

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.

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).

A detailed view of the masonry and keystones of the arch, surrounded by thick greenery.

Give Back to the Park

Arches and bridges support every visitor’s journey through Central Park. You can help the Conservancy maintain these integral structures and the landscapes that surround them.

Donate Now

Also in the area