At the top of the hill is a large open meadow surrounded by trees—a popular area for picnicking, relaxing, and playing casual lawn games. Several small glades located to the west of the main lawn area provide more intimate spaces for resting and gathering and are linked by paths overlooking Central Park West. In the winter, the views open to the surrounding Park and the City in the distance.
Like other high points in the north end of the Park, this spot was a place of strategic importance during the Revolutionary War. It served as the site of a British encampment for troops that were also active at the nearby highpoints now known as Fort Clinton and Nutter’s Battery. Like other high points in the Park, such as Summit Rock and Cherry Hill, this area was originally designed as a carriage concourse for riders to rest and enjoy the expansive views. (At the time, this included the Hudson River and the Palisades.)
Beginning in the 1930s, the Great Hill was transformed with the addition of game courts, numerous new paths, and a comfort station. Over time, the meadows and small glades became overgrown, becoming a dense and mostly weedy woodland.
Since 1985, the Conservancy has worked to restore the area’s naturalistic character. In 2009, a major storm passed through the area, causing the loss of more than 100 trees in and around the Great Hill. Although the destruction was devastating, it did create some new open areas in this landscape that are consistent with the area’s original design.
Things you can do here
Central Park is home to lawns, benches, and picnic tables across its 843 acres, providing countless great picnic spots.
Tags: Families / Tips for Visiting / All Ages / Nature Lovers
Spot dozens of species of trees and learn something new while enjoying a peaceful walk.
Tags: Tree Walks
Discover the peaceful, wild woodland that’s little-known to most visitors.