Great Lawn

Located at the precise geographical center of Central Park is one of the most well-known lawns in the world: the Great Lawn.

The 55-acre area hosts a great range of recreational activities and is a popular destination for picnicking, sunbathing, relaxing, playing and watching softball, and enjoying the scenery. The main oval lawn area is 13 acres and includes six fields for softball. (Heckscher Ballfields and the North Meadow are home to the Park’s other sports fields). All require a permit to play organized games. To the north of the main lawn are two additional fields for volleyball and basketball.

The Great Lawn is well-known as a place for concerts and performances, hosting the annual New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks performance and annual Global Citizen Festival. The Great Lawn landscape also includes important scenic destinations such as the Arthur Ross Pinetum and Turtle Pond.

Quiet Moments at the Great Lawn

Immerse yourself in the views and sounds of one the Park's prime spots to play, relax, and recharge.

Although it may resemble some of Central Park’s other famous lawns such as Sheep Meadow, the Great Lawn is a relatively recent addition to the Park. It was built in the 1930s to replace a large reservoir that pre-dated Central Park, once a key piece of the City’s water distribution system. Completed in 1842, the receiving reservoir was a huge stone tank for holding water from upstate New York before it was piped further downtown. When planning for the Park began, a new reservoir was created just to the north, now known as the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, in order to expand the system. Both reservoirs posed an obstacle to Park designers.

When the original reservoir was deemed obsolete in 1917, ideas for new features to replace it flooded in from New Yorkers—including a World War I memorial, a sports arena, and an opera house. After the reservoir was drained and filled, plans materialized to create a large oval-shaped lawn for sports along with playgrounds on the northern edge and a small pond (now Turtle Pond) on the south. This was completed in 1937.

Like many areas of the Park, by the 1970s the combination of intensive use and inadequate maintenance led to the Great Lawn’s severe deterioration. Large concerts from the 1960s to the 1980s degraded the lawn and contributed to the area becoming known as “The Great Dust Bowl.”

In 1997, the Central Park Conservancy completed the restoration of the Great Lawn, a two-year, multi-million-dollar project that rebuilt infrastructure and restored the lawn to balance both active sports use and quiet relaxation.