The Lake

Spanning 20 acres, the Lake is Central Park's largest man-made body of water—and the site of an enduring tradition.

From April through November, visitors can rent rowboats and hire authentic Venetian gondolas at the Loeb Boathouse to explore the idyllic landscape.

Central Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux imagined the Lake as a place for ice skating in the winter—a pastime not available to New Yorkers at the time—and boating in the summer. On December 19, 1858, some 300 ice skaters took to the Lake at an unofficial “opening” of Central Park. The activity was an instant hit and soon skyrocketed in popularity; on Christmas morning the following year, nearly 8,000 skaters showed up. Though ice skating on the Lake is a thing of the past, the warm-weather tradition of rowboats and gondolas has endured for over 150 years.