New York, NY — The Central Park Conservancy has completed reconstruction of five historic boat landings along the shoreline of the Park’s 20-acre Lake. This project, which resulted in authentic recreations of boat landings originally constructed in 1860, marked the final phase of a multi-year effort to restore the Lake and surrounding landscapes.
The landings — small, pavilion-like structures — enhance visitors’ enjoyment and exploration of an iconic Central Park landscape. Historically, a passenger boat made a circuit of the Lake, picking up and dropping off visitors at Bethesda Terrace and at each of the five landings. Park visitors could also hire smaller “call boats,” operated by a boatman, to take them around or ferry them between each stop. Six structures were originally constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to complement their site-specific scenery. Much of the original detailing was lost over time and photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries reveal various iterations of the landings as they were periodically repaired and rebuilt. Eventually, they deteriorated and were removed.
In 1970, the Friends of Central Park, a citizen-led advocacy and fundraising group that preceded the Central Park Conservancy, launched an initiative to rebuild the landings. Despite efforts to remain faithful to the original designs, the results were mixed.
Loeb Boathouse was built in 1953 on the site of one of the original structures. The remaining five recreated by the Central Park Conservancy include four — at Hernshead, the Western Shore, Wagner Cove, and Bow Bridge — that replace the ones rebuilt in the 1970s, and one — near Bank Rock Bay — that had not existed since around 1910.
This project — part of Forever Green: Ensuring Central Park, the Central Park Conservancy’s ten-year fundraising campaign to enable vital, long-term restoration for the entire Park — rebuilt the landings in rustic and Victorian styles, according to their respective original designs. Construction began in May of 2015 and was completed this month.