The Gilded Age past of a Central Park gate

Central Park’s Conservatory Garden is a magical place. Divided into three separate gardens designed in Italian, French, and English styles, it’s a quiet zone with lovely walkways and fountains.


The main entrance to the garden on Fifth Avenue between 104th and 105th Streets, is through Vanderbilt Gate.

Impressive, right? Made in France, it’s “considered one of the finest examples of wrought iron work in New York City,” states


It’s original home, however, wasn’t the Conservatory Garden. The gate was created to serve as the imposing front entrance to Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s magnificent mansion. (Not to be confused with another Vanderbilt house palace several blocks south.)

That mansion, the largest private residence ever built in New York City, stood at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street from 1883 to 1927, after which it was bulldozed to make way for Bergdorf Goodman.

Luckily the gate was repurposed and installed at the garden, a fitting entrance for an enchanting spot.

[Top photo: Central Park Conservatory]

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12 Responses to “The Gilded Age past of a Central Park gate”

  1. Gimelgort Says:

    Hard to believe such an impressive edifice only stood for 44 years. By way of comparison, for instance- my piece of crap suburban high school is older than that, and it is an architectural waste of bricks (among other shortcomings).

  2. Ricky Says:

    I was just at the park a couple of weeks ago with some friends when all the spring flowers were in bloom. It is a beautiful park.

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I was there yesterday and the roses were magnificent!

  4. Admin Says:

    I love the history of Vanderbilt Family. I read the book The First Ticon by T.J. Stiles. Just loved it. Also its possible to see the mantle of his fire place exposed at Metropolitam museum. I write about NYC in Portuguese in my blog too. Thanks for sharing such great things in your blog.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you! The Vanderbilts are so entwined with the history and growth of New York, an entire blog could be devoted to them.

  6. James Says:

    I’ve always what happened to the second gate from the other side of the Vanderbilt’s horseshoe driveway, but I’ve never been able to track it down on the interwebs.

  7. A magical garden nobody knows in Central Park | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] To get in, you pass through a cast-iron gate designed in France for the Vanderbilt mansion down Fifth Avenue on 58th Street; when the mansion was torn down, the Victorian-era gate ended up here. […]

  8. trilby1895 Says:

    Thank goodness someone cared enough not only to preserve this beautiful work of art but also place it where it is in Central Park.

  9. The 57th Street mansion built as a wedding gift | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] When the couple moved in, the East 50s off Fifth Avenue was a residential enclave crawling with rich Vanderbilt family members, including Cornelius Vanderbilt II, whose spectacular mansion was just down the block at One West 57th Street. […]

  10. A Gilded Age mansion traded for a pearl necklace | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] all, his neighbors were among the wealthiest New Yorkers, including several Vanderbilts, who occupied their own mansions across the street. (Plant bought the land from William K. […]

  11. Roosevelt Island Historical Society » Thursday, November 26, 2020 – THE CHARMING MANSION THAT IS NEW A JEWELRY STORE Says:

    […] all, his neighbors were among the wealthiest New Yorkers, including several Vanderbilts, who occupied their own mansions across the street. (Plant bought the land from William K. […]

  12. The nude statue outside Alice Vanderbilt’s window | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] with that—except, supposedly, the very rich widow living out her days in a 137-room mansion that spanned 57th to 58th Street, and whose bedroom window had a direct view of Pomona’s nude […]

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