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.

Then & Now: The Harlem Meer

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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Help us care for the Park’s water bodies. Our work keeps them healthy and supports the wildlife that depend on them.

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Things you can do here

  • Activities

    Catch-and-Release Fishing

    Borrow fishing poles for catch-and-release fishing in the Harlem Meer.

    Tags: Kids and Families

  • Tour

    Discovery Walks for Families: Harlem Meer

    Go back in time and explore the changing Harlem Meer landscape. Learn about its history and discover the plants and animals that live in its waters today.
  • Tours

    Discovery Walks for Families: The North Woods Tour

    11:00 am

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

    Tags: Kids and Families / Plants and Trees

  • Tours

    The North Woods Tour

    2:00 pm

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

    Tags: Art & Architecture / Wildlife / Plants and Trees

  • Guides

    Picnic Guide

    Central Park is home to lawns, benches, and picnic tables across its 843 acres, providing countless great picnic spots.

    Tags: Kids and Families / Wildlife

  • Tours

    Birding Basics: The North Woods

    Trained guides take visitors on an exploration of the North Woods, while sharing tips and tricks for spotting and identifying birds.

    Tags: Seasonal

  • 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: History

  • Tours

    Hidden Highlights of the North End Tour

    11:00 am

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

    Tags: History / Art & Architecture

  • Also in the area

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  • Park Information

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    Here are 10 ways to combine a desire for a new you in the new year 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

  • 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

  • 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 eight-foot bronze sculpture and accompanying renovation of the area to come about.

    Tags: Conservancy Staff / Park Design / Monuments / History

  • Wildlife

    Wintering in Central Park: How Urban Wildlife Survives Seasonal Change

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

    Tags: Winter / Nature Lovers

  • 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

  • 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 family-friendly entertainment, crafts, and more.

    Tags: Fall / Best for Kids