This 20-acre water body connects the Ramble, Bethesda Terrace, and various west side landscapes to form what is often called the heart of Central Park. In addition to wandering its varied shoreline and appreciating its many vistas, visitors can also explore the Lake by boat thanks to rowboat rentals available at the Loeb Boathouse.
Central Park’s designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux envisioned the Lake as a key to fulfilling the Park’s primary purpose—providing a sense of wonder and escape from urban life. The Lake’s bridges and small structures, known as boat landings, are focal points, enticing visitors to explore further and enjoy the views.
The Lake was the first landscape in Central Park to be opened to the public in winter 1858. New Yorkers were drawn by the promise of ice skating, a recreational activity that was growing in popularity but not yet widely accessible. On Christmas morning that year, an estimated 8,000 people showed up to skate on the newly opened Lake. Boating was first made available in the 1860s and became widely popular.
The Central Park Conservancy completed a major four-year restoration of the Lake in 2010 to stabilize the shoreline, enhance the landscape with new plantings, rebuild infrastructure, and improve the overall ecological health of the area.
Things you can do here
Look up to admire the many trees in the heart of the Park.
Tags: Tree Walks
The mammals, birds, and reptiles that call Central Park home have adapted to survive the cold.
Research into the original drawings and plans created to build Central Park offer hidden secrets from both the built and unbuilt aspects of the Park.
Tags: Park Design
Things to See and Do
Want to get moving in New York City’s backyard? We’ve got you covered with these 10 ideas.
Tags: Summer / Tips for Visiting
Things to See and Do
We set out to capture some of their stories and create a picture of the Park on an average day, through our visitors' eyes.
Tags: Families / Summer
Restoration and Maintenance
Tags: Summer / Conservancy Staff