The Lake

The Lake is one of Central Park’s most important scenic destinations.

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 Central Park 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.

Then & Now: The Lake

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.

Quiet Moments at the Lake

Enjoy this sunset view of the Lake, a gorgeous water body in the heart of Central Park.

View with audio description

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.

Rowboats on the Lake, viewed from Bethesda Terrace

Support the Park

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

Donate Now

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