Harlem Meer

The Harlem Meer is a water body in the northeast corner of Central Park—one of the most popular destinations in the area and known for its wealth of activities and scenic beauty.

The Harlem Meer is a water body in the northeast corner of Central Park—one of the most popular destinations in the area and known for its wealth of activities and scenic beauty.

A path lined with benches and various lawns along the Meer’s edge provide numerous spots for relaxing, picnicking, and sunbathing, as well as enjoying shoreline vegetation, wildlife, and views of the rocky bluffs to the south—an area known as the Fort Landscape.

The Meer is particularly popular with families, who can participate in activities such as catch-and-release fishing, skating and swimming at the Harlem Meer Center (formerly Lasker Rink and Pool), and playing in two playgrounds. The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, a visitor center run by the Central Park Conservancy, is also a center of activity, offering exhibits and community programs.

The word “Meer” is Dutch for “small sea,” and the name reflects the Park designers’ interest in unique names for the Park’s water bodies. It also connects to the area’s past, once part of the Dutch village of Harlem. This artificial lake was created on the location of a tidal marsh that was fed by a creek that extended south to the Harlem River. The Harlem Meer was designed as part of a sequence of landscapes connected by water: the Pool to the west flows into the Loch, which then flows into the Meer. Like most of the Park, by the 1970s, the Harlem Meer and surrounding landscapes were severely deteriorated. In 1993, the Conservancy completed a major restoration of the Meer, which made the area once again a destination for the neighboring communities.

A view across the expanse of the Meer, encircled by green trees, with the Dana Center on the far shore.

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Things you can do here

  • Daily Activities

    Picnic Guide

    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

  • Virtual

    The North Woods Virtual Tour

    Join Central Park Conservatory guides on a virtual tour as we explore the tumbling waterfalls, rustic bridges, and picturesque pools of the North Woods.

    Tags: Staff Picks

  • Daily Activities

    Catch-and-Release Fishing

    Borrow fishing poles for catch-and-release fishing in the Harlem Meer.
  • Self-Guided Tours

    Fort Landscapes Tour

    Step into history and see how this area near the Harlem Meer played a key role during the American Revolution and War of 1812.

    Tags: Woodlands

  • Guided Tours

    Discovery Walks for Families: The North Woods

    The rocky landscape surrounding the Harlem Meer has a storied history and more than a few secret nooks for young explorers to enjoy.

    Tags: Best for Kids / Nature Lovers / Woodlands / Active

  • Guided Tours

    Hidden Highlights of the North End

    Lace up your comfortable walking shoes for an energetic hike through Central Park’s north end!

    Tags: History / Highlights / Nature Lovers / Active

  • Guided Tours

    The North Woods Tour

    Escape the chaos of New York City in Central Park’s North Woods, an idyllic woodland oasis showcasing cascades, streams, and thriving greenery.

  • Virtual

    Northern Forts Virtual Tour

    History buffs will love this exploration of the Fort Landscape in the northern part of Central Park.

    Tags: Staff Picks

  • Read more

  • Park History

    Establishing a ‘Gateway to Harlem’: The Creation of Frederick Douglass Circle

    While Frederick Douglass is an integral figure in American history, it took time for the 8-foot bronze sculpture and accompanying renovation of the area to come about.

    Tags: Conservancy Staff / Park Design / Monuments / History

  • Wildlife

    Winter Stories from Central Park's Wildlife

    The mammals, birds, and reptiles that call Central Park home have adapted to survive the cold.

    Tags: Winter

  • Park Information

    10 New Year’s Resolutions for a Central Park Lover

    Here are 10 ways to combine a desire for a new you in 2020 with the joy of spending time in Central Park.

  • Programs and Events

    New Yorkers Celebrate Spring in Central Park

    A full day of free special events and programs unfolded across Central Park on March 20 to celebrate the first day of spring.

    Tags: Families / Conservancy Staff / Spring

  • About the Conservancy

    Keeping NYC's Backyard Clean & Green: A Park Lover's Guide to Visiting Central Park

    As we experience one of the busiest years in Central Park history, let’s work together to tend to the Park we need, and that in turn, needs us. Read this checklist before your next visit and help us keep the Park healthy this summer and for seasons to come.

    Tags: Families / Summer / Conservancy Staff / Flowers / Tips for Visiting / Trees / Nature Lovers / Park Experts / First-Time Visitors

  • Plants and Trees

    What Are Central Park’s Most Colorful Fall Trees?

    In appreciation of this photogenic time of year, we asked a Conservancy arborist what trees you should look for this autumn and where to find them.

    Tags: Fall / Trees

  • Park History

    Harlem Meer Performance Festival Nears 30 Years of Music and Dance

    Since 1993, the Harlem Meer Performance Festival has been a cultural cornerstone of the community surrounding the north end of Central Park.

    Tags: Summer

  • Restoration and Maintenance

    New Rink and Pool to Expand Recreational Opportunities

    The Conservancy has unveiled its capstone project of its decades-long work in the north end of Central Park.

  • Restoration and Maintenance

    Always Improving: Restoring Central Park in 2019

    The Central Park Conservancy’s team of professionals work year-round to renovate, rebuild, and refresh every corner of the Park.

    Tags: Playgrounds

  • Programs and Events

    The Hair-Raising History of the Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla

    The Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla returns to the Harlem Meer in late October with crafts, storytelling, a costume parade, and more.

    Tags: Fall / Best for Kids