If the skyscrapers and hotels in the background were cropped out, you might not even know these images were taken in Central Park.
But they were. In the summer of 1961, Life =photographer Leonard McCombe documented New Yorkers enjoying pastimes and pleasures in the park, about a century old at the time.
His photographs came together in an essay in the magazine. All 26 published photos are available in the Life archive.
These five really capture the joys of a lazy warm New York afternoon, and all the ways to enjoy the 800 or so acres of the world’s most famous park.
[No more carriage rides in the park if our current mayor gets his way...]
In 1961, you could have taken a dip in the waters of Bethesda Fountain (well, dogs could, apparently), fish in Harlem Meer (or is that the pond?), or kick a soccer ball around the lawn.
Or kick off your shoes, sit back on a boulder, and dip your toes in cold water while having a smoke.
Of course, these women would be hauled off the jail today; ex–Mayor Bloomberg banned smoking in all city parks in 2011!
[Photos: Leonard McCombe—Time & Life Picture/Getty Images]