Restoration

The New Harlem Meer Center

A state-of-the-art facility and landscape 40 years in the making

The transformation of the obsolete and crumbling 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. Demolition of the old building is now complete, and construction of the new facility and surrounding landscape is underway, including excavation adjacent to the West Drive to support the new building foundation.

A new construction phase, begun in the summer of 2022, is reconnecting the Loch (the waterbody located in the North Woods’ Ravine) to the Harlem Meer, once again allowing water to flow unobstructed from the Pool into the Meer.

To facilitate this reconnection, a temporary dam is being built at the southwest corner of the Meer. After divers install the dam, all affected fish will be carefully relocated, and the newly separated portion of the Meer will be drained.

It is anticipated that the dam will be in place through the winter and into the spring, though shoreline reconstruction and development of the stream course will continue for much of the duration of the project. This project phase is being carried out in compliance with and under the regulatory oversight of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Protection of Waters program, dedicated to preserving and protecting the State’s lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds.

We are working toward reopening for the 2024 pool season.

Stay Connected and Informed

Questions? Email us at [email protected]. Please provide your name, address, and/or organizational affiliation.

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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