Strawberry Fields

Strawberry Fields is a memorial to the British rock musician and peace activist John Lennon (1940–1980). The memorial consists of a five-acre landscape near the West 72nd Street entrance and includes the Imagine mosaic, where many come to pay tribute to Lennon. The memorial’s name is a reference to the 1967 song Lennon wrote and performed with the Beatles, “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Plans for a memorial to John Lennon began to take shape soon after his death. It began with the City’s decision to name the area of Central Park across from the Dakota building where he and his wife, Yoko Ono, lived and where he loved to walk, Strawberry Fields. Ono then began to conceive of a memorial in this landscape and invited countries from all over the world to contribute plants as well as stones to create an international garden of peace. Ono’s idea was shaped by her own work as a conceptual artist as well as her knowledge that Lennon would not have wanted a traditional memorial in the form of a statue.

Ono worked with the Central Park Conservancy, including landscape architect Bruce Kelly, to come up with a design for the area that incorporated some of these donations, while restoring what was a deteriorated section of Central Park. Kelly sought to integrate the design of the memorial into the Park’s overall landscape, connecting it to the purpose of the Park as a place to find peace and respite. The design of Strawberry Fields incorporates a couple of small meadows lined with trees and shrubs and a path that winds through a small, wooded area. While focusing on the landscape, the design also includes a more formal design element, a mosaic installed into the pavement with the word Imagine in the center, donated by the city of Naples, Italy. Surrounded by benches, the area provides a focal point and gathering space for the many visitors that come to pay homage to Lennon. A plaque inset into a rock outcrop acknowledges the countries that made contributions.

Strawberry Fields was officially dedicated on October 9, 1985, the 45th anniversary of Lennon’s birth. When it opened, Strawberry Fields provided a rare alternative to traditional memorials, in the form of a living landscape that changes and grows over time.

Strawberry Fields is one of several memorials to musicians in the Park. Others include Duke Ellington, Victor Herbert, and Beethoven.