An Adirondack forest hiding in mid-Manhattan


Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted’s plan for Central Park in 1857 was to bring the serenity of nature to a swampy, rocky stretch of the city.

After bulldozing shantytowns and draining swamps, they (and masses of laborers) spent the next several years fabricating pastoral lawns, hills, ponds, and lakes.

The also created the North Woods: a 90-acre refuge at the northern end of the park designed to replicate the secluded Adirondack forests of central New York State.


“Although much less was done to rearrange the northern end’s rugged topography than had been done elsewhere, park workers built a twelve-acre lake called the Harlem Meer on the swamp, carved out and planted the Ravine and Waterfall, and constructed another mile of drive, a mile and a half of walks, and several rustic bridges,” reports

Northwoodscpconservatory2The result: “Within the woodlands, traffic disappears, buildings are hidden by trees and a gentle stream bubbles over sounds of the city, states the Central Park Conservatory website.

It really does feel like a slice of the Adirondacks just yards from the subway. And hidden in the thick forest is one of the city’s oldest structures: a blockhouse from the War of 1812.

[Top and bottom photos: Central Park Conservatory]

Tags: , , , , , , ,

11 Responses to “An Adirondack forest hiding in mid-Manhattan”

  1. notmsparker Says:

    Reblogged this on KREUZBERG´D and commented:
    Speaking of parks in big cities (please read – here is the story of most probably the best known urban park in the world: Central Park. From Ephemeral New York.

  2. Says:

    Check out reference to war of 1812

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Natali S. Bravo Says:

    If you ❤ NY, you will love my blog.

  4. Natali S. Bravo Says:

    Reblogged this on Savoring Moments and commented:
    Wonderful post. A quick must read about central park.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you! It’s not quite like hiking Mt. Marcy but still pretty isolated.

  6. Edward Says:

    Curious as to why the map of the 8th Ave side of the park labels all the cross streets numerically except for 106th St, which is spelled out (One-Hundred Sixth Street). All the other streets (103rd, 104th, etc) are written numerically.


  7. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I think because the park’s northern boundary originally was supposed to be 106th Street.

  8. aspicco Says:

    i was wandering around up there yesterday… one of my favorite sections of the park…

  9. redQueen Says:

    thank you for this wonderful post, I want to run right out and find that structure from 1812. Here is more info on the park – seems getting it built was just as difficult and fractious as it might be today!

  10. The most beautiful bridges inside Central Park | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] this rustic bridge in the Ramble has a name, I couldn’t find it! It’s an homage to the natural vision Olmsted and Vaux had for the […]

  11. The lovely Art Nouveau window grille on a Riverside Drive row house | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] park, breaking off into slender carriage roads high above the Hudson River. (We have Central Park co-designer Frederick Law Olmsted, who also conceptualized Riverside Park and what was originally called Riverside Avenue, to thank […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: