The next phase of our work to restore the Ramble will be the reconstruction of open-air shelters that once existed at high points in the landscape.
The Ramble, as originally designed and constructed in the 1800s, had many rustic wooden features (benches and shelter structures) that harmonized with the naturalistic character of the landscape. The open-air shelters were designed to be integrated into the landscape while providing places for visitors to relax and appreciate the views. Many were located at high points throughout Central Park and served as visual landmarks when the Park’s current trees were still saplings.
Only one of the original rustic shelters remains in the Ramble today; the others have been missing from the Park for approximately 100 years. Surviving photos and drawings of these historic structures allowed the Conservancy to identify the original locations. Photographs suggest that the structures were repaired or completely reconstructed multiple times after being installed early in the Park’s history but were removed sometime in the early 20th century, likely by the 1920s.
Based on the design and detailing from historic drawings and photographs, the Conservancy is reconstructing several of these rustic structures: the Belvedere Summerhouse, the Umbrella Structure, and the Log Shelter. Once completed, these structures will serve as a focal point to help guide visitors through the woodland landscape of the Ramble and create and enhance opportunities for rest and reflection.
The Conservancy started construction on the Belvedere Summerhouse in June 2023 and completed the project in September 2023. Located at the northwest corner of the Ramble, with views of Belvedere Castle to the north and the rolling landscapes to the south, the structure is a large shelter with multiple integrated benches below a substantial, overhanging roof. Scope of work for this project included structural work for the foundation, as well as primary and secondary structural members of the rustic structure itself; tree pruning and site plantings; and regrading of the stone screenings surface.
The Umbrella Structure, completed between September and November 2023, provides views of Bow Bridge and the Lake. It features a small roof canopy with a round shaded seat below and a rustic fence to frame the structure. Scope of work for this project included structural tasks such as foundations embedded into bedrock, as well as primary and secondary structural members of the structure itself; rustic wood fence installation to match the historic details; new plantings; and edging/surfacing work.
Construction for the Log Shelter is expected to start in December 2023. Similar to the Belvedere Summerhouse, the structure will feature a large overhanging roof canopy with multiple integrated benches below.
The Conservancy has taken all possible measures to protect any active or vulnerable wildlife habitats.
This project is the next phase of the Conservancy’s comprehensive, multi-year effort to renew and sustain the Ramble.