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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