Belvedere Castle


For more than a century, the Belvedere (Italian for “beautiful view”) has provided some of the best views of Central Park. Calvert Vaux, co-designer of the Park, conceived the miniature castle in 1858 as a whimsical open-air structure and lookout tower. Situated atop Vista Rock, the Belvedere offered views of the old Croton reservoir (now the Great Lawn) to the north and the Ramble to the south. In 1919, it was enclosed with windows and doors to serve as a station of the U.S. Weather Bureau.

The weather station moved out of the facility in the early 1960s, and two decades of deterioration and vandalism followed. In 1983, the Conservancy renovated and reopened Belvedere Castle as a visitor center and gift shop. Deterioration over the next thirty-five years was exacerbated by insufficient drainage, waterproofing, and climate control systems.

A comprehensive core and shell restoration of the Belvedere, including the expansion and modernization of mechanical systems and supporting utilities, began in 2018.

The Conservancy’s restoration of the Belvedere included:

  • Cleaning and repointing the Belvedere’s exterior and interior masonry
  • Installing new drainage and waterproofing systems
  • Restoring the wood pavilions on the main plaza and upper terraces
  • Recreating a wood tower that was originally part of the large pavilion at the northwest corner
  • Replacing existing terrace pavements with bluestone pavers laid out according to the historic design
  • Replacing the existing windows and doors with clear pane, insulated glass to evoke the Belvedere’s original open-air design and control interior temperature and moisture
  • Repairing and replacing interior bluestone floors and ceilings
  • Modernizing mechanical systems and upgrading utility services
  • Upgrading interior and exterior lighting


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View of Belvedere, 1880 Belvedere West Belvedere Rendering

Left to right: View from the old Reservoir c. 1880 (photo courtesy of Museum of the City of New York); Belvedere Castle’s west façade before restoration; rendering of Belvedere after restoration.

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