Restoration

Restoration of Central Park’s Cast-Iron Bridges

The Central Park Conservancy is working to restore several of the Park’s cast-iron bridges, including exterior decorative elements to restore the bridges’ appearance, structural elements to ensure the stability and longevity of the structures, and decking and railing systems so that the bridges can be enjoyed by Park visitors. The work at Bow Bridge was completed in January 2024, and construction at Gothic Bridge will start in May 2024. Timing for the restoration of Pinebank Arch will be determined shortly.

History

Pinebank Arch (or Bridge No. 15 in the original Park numbering system for the cast-iron bridges. The stone bridges and arches are not numbered.) and Bridge No. 28 (also known as Gothic Bridge) were designed by Calvert Vaux and constructed in the 1860s as part of the original design and construction of Central Park. Both bridges span the bridle path, Pinebank at the southern end of the bridle path in the southwest section of the Park and Gothic Bridge just north of the Reservoir. The bridges have had numerous repairs and restorations, but they both retain substantial portions of their original, historic cast-iron fabric. Significant restorations were carried out on both bridges in the early 1980s (led by NYC Parks with consultants). Since then, the Conservancy has conducted more limited interventions such as decking replacements, repairs and removals of cast-iron elements, and paint work.

Bow Bridge, also designed by Vaux and constructed in the early 1860s, crosses the Lake (the only one of the Park’s cast-iron bridges to cross a water body rather than the bridle path) and connects the Ramble to Bethesda Terrace and Cherry Hill. As with Pinebank Arch and Gothic Bridge, Bow Bridge has received numerous repairs and restorations throughout the Park’s history. From 2008 to 2015, a series of projects included the restoration of the missing urns at each end of the bridge, structural and abutment repairs, repainting, and deck replacement.

Scope of Work

Pinebank Arch

  • Replace pine slat decking with tongue-and-groove pine decking to match historic documentation
  • Recast missing decorative pieces in cast iron using a mold of existing decorative pieces
  • Repair decorative cast-iron elements by shaping them in place, where required
  • Scrape and paint cast iron and steel to match existing colors, based on research and analysis
Paulson Winter 2014 6889

The existing conditions of Pinebank Arch

Bridge 28 (Gothic Bridge)

  • Replace tongue-and-groove pine decking in-kind
  • Recast missing decorative pieces in cast iron using a mold of existing decorative pieces
  • Repair decorative cast-iron elements by shaping them in place, where required
  • Scrape and paint cast iron and steel to match existing colors, based on research and analysis
Gothic Bridge 20190221 001

The existing conditions of Bridge No. 28

Bow Bridge

  • Replaced tongue-and-groove pine decking in-kind, based on historic photographs
Bow Bridge Resurfaced 20240110 06195

Completed work on Bow Bridge