The New Harlem Meer Center

We are rebuilding the former Lasker Rink and Pool to better integrate the facility into the landscape, offer new and enhanced outdoor activities, and increase access for communities around the north end of Central Park.

The transformation of the Lasker Rink and Pool site on the Harlem Meer is the most significant and complex project ever undertaken by the Conservancy. It represents the culmination of our work to re-establish the north end of the Park as a vital resource for the surrounding community. When complete, the fully accessible Harlem Meer Center will offer new and enhanced outdoor activities and provide unhindered access across the north end of the Park—both by reconnecting the watercourse that travels through the Ravine, allowing it to run unobstructed from the Pool into the Meer, and re-establishing the pedestrian path that was once alongside it.

With ongoing input from our community and interested user groups, we have designed this state-of-the-art facility to reflect both our visitors’ priorities and the spirit of Central Park’s original purpose. The new-and-improved Harlem Meer will invite expanded recreational and leisure activities, help us engage more deeply with our Park neighbors, and offer more ways for the community to enjoy this diverse and beautiful naturalistic setting in the heart of New York.

About the Restoration

When completed, the new Harlem Meer Center will provide:

  • Year-round free and low-cost programming and expanded recreational opportunities, with increased access to nature
  • Enhanced swimming and skating, including a full-scale ice rink, an additional new skating experience on the Meer, a larger-than-Olympic-size pool, and a new outdoor spray pad
  • Year-round access to restrooms and amenities and more community programming
  • A boardwalk through freshwater marsh plantings at the edge of the water body, which will serve as an ice ribbon for skating in the winter
  • Unhindered access across the north end of the Park

The design has been led by the Central Park Conservancy and Susan T. Rodriguez Architecture & Design in collaboration with Mitchell Giurgola.

Construction Updates

Significant progress has been made since breaking ground in September 2021. Concrete work for the building is progressing, and site utilities have been installed.

Our work to reconnect the Loch (the water body located in the North Woods’ Ravine) to the Harlem Meer is also underway. We are currently removing the temporary dam that allowed for sediment removal and grading of the Meer. Shoreline restoration work is also continuing this season, and excavation for the new stream and earthwork for the western slope adjacent to the Drive is done.

Boulders—salvaged from on-site rock excavation—have been carefully placed to stabilize the slope and stream course and match the picturesque character of the Ravine. We also installed engineered top soils that will reduce erosion, and started planting in the area.

Our work in the southeast side of the site includes the construction of paths, storm drainage, infrastructure for Park lighting, and stairs. This work will continue through the spring into the summer.

Stay Connected and Informed

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The view from the Ravine through Huddlestone Arch, before and after reconstruction (rendering)

A rendering of the planned pavilion interior

A light-filled gathering space will open onto the deck of the new pool

Project FAQs

Q: What kinds of programming will the new Harlem Meer Center host?

In dialogue with the surrounding communities, we are developing a variety of year-round programming opportunities. As the project nears completion, we will publish more details about the Harlem Meer Center’s programs and events.

Q: How big will the facility be?

The new facility will take the shape of an elongated oval, measuring 280 feet by 120 feet.

The new pool will be larger than an Olympic-size pool. It will be the eighth-largest pool in New York City—making it one of a handful of City pools that can accommodate 50-meter lap swimming.

The new facility will also feature a full-size ice rink that can support tournaments and/or championships.

Q: Will the new design support existing uses like lap swimming, recreational skating, and hockey programming?

Yes. The new pool will accommodate the same uses as the existing pool, including recreational and lap swimming, and a regulation-size rink will support a robust skating and hockey program. In addition, the new facility will be open year-round to support community-focused programming during the spring and fall.

Q: I want to go swimming or ice skating, but the Lasker Rink and Pool is closed. Where can I go?

Upper Manhattan is well served by several large public pools, such as Highbridge Pool (Washington Heights), Jackie Robinson (North Harlem), Marcus Garvey (Harlem), Frederick Douglass (West Harlem), Wagner (East Harlem), Thomas Jefferson (East Harlem), and John Jay (Upper East Side). Swimmers also have the option to use the Riverbank State Pool (West Harlem).

In the winter, you can visit Central Park’s Wollman Rink for ice skating.

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