AS A large body of water, located in one of the world’s most well-known parks, Central Park’s South Pond really needs little introduction. It was included in the original park layout, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1858 and made use of a low-lying area of swampland. By making the most of this natural landscape, the two designers were able to create a picturesque and peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, which are above the Pond.
Taking up 3.8 acres of the park, the South Pond has been a popular spot for visitors across the years, featuring velocipede swan boats and ice skating at different times in its history. Although New Yorkers no longer skate on the pond itself, the Wollman Rink provides that facility within Central Park and is located on what used to be the northern arm of the pond.
Traversing the pond, also at the northern end, is Gapstow Bridge, a site made famous as the place where Kevin McAllister (Macauly Caulkin) met the pigeon lady in Home Alone 2. It is the second bridge on that spot, having been built in 1896 when the original bridge (an ornate work of stone, iron and wood) decayed after only 20 years.
In addition to the manmade structures in the park, a variety of native and exotic plants and trees grow there, and more than 240 species of migratory birds make their home at the Pond. One of these, the ducks, was the focus of Holden Caulfield’s philosophical ponderings in The Catcher in the Rye. Throughout the novel he wonders where the ducks in the Central Park pond go in Winter – the answer, as it happens, is to other parts of the park – and this links to ideas of change and growth in the face of obstacles that characterise Holden’s own journey. Visit outside of the winter months to have your own Holden Caulfield moment.
Physical address: W 59th Street & 5th Avenue, Central Park, New York
Phone number: +1 212 310 6600
Business hours: 6am – 1am daily
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