The Mall & Literary Walk

The Mall is one of Central Park’s most significant landscapes and horticultural wonders.

This wide, straight path lined by two rows of American elm trees was designed by Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as a formal promenade and gathering space. Like many areas of the Park, visitors can experience this landscape in largely the same way they would have in the 19th century: strolling, sitting, people-watching, listening to music, contemplating monuments, and admiring trees.

Olmsted and Vaux called the Mall “an open-air hall of reception.” The designers arranged trees in regular rows and chose American elms because their curvy and overarching branches create an impression of an architectural space—some have compared it to the vaulting of a cathedral. This straight path, one of the few in the Park, connects entrances and landscapes in the south to points north, leading directly to Bethesda Terrace, the other premier gathering space, and the Ramble beyond.

The southern section of the Mall is known as Literary Walk because of the numerous statues of writers added there in the 19th century. In 2020, this stretch of the Mall became the site of the first new monument added to the Park in over 50 years, the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument.

The northern stretch of the Mall encompasses the Concert Ground, created in the 19th century as a place to enjoy classical and popular music. It originally featured a cast-iron bandstand designed by architect Jacob Wrey Mould. In 1923, it was replaced by a larger and more modern facility, the Naumberg Bandshell, which still hosts concerts and other performances. Just up the hill to the east is Rumsey Playfield, currently the Park’s main music venue, which hosts the performing arts festival SummerStage.

The Mall and all its different elements provide an important illustration of how the Park was designed as a social space. It was intended as a place for all New Yorkers, regardless of class or background, and the Mall was where they could all come together to enjoy nature, art, and culture.

A view from a park bench, looking down the length of the Mall, with trees showing deep green summer leaves

Support the Park

The Mall is a great example of the Central Park Conservancy’s breadth of responsibilities in the Park—arborists tend to its trees, conservators protect its monuments, and groundskeepers clear away any trash. Help the Conservancy continue this work.

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