So many ways to kick back in 1960s Central Park

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]

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3 Responses to “So many ways to kick back in 1960s Central Park”

  1. penelopebianchi Says:

    What a wonderful; and entertaining post!

    I am a native Californian (endangered species…..3rd generation) !

    I lived in Manhattan for a year! 1969-1970! Lordy!
    However; I must say that Central Park is the most amazing masterpiece I have ever seen in my now ,very long life!

    It provides enormous nature shelter for so many animals and birds…..and the centerpiece for me is “PALE MALE”!!!!

    Twenty something years ago….before the internet…..I saw the “Wall Street Journal”! There was one of those “pointillist” pictures on the front page with a picture of a “hawks’s nest” built on a “decorative medallion” on one of the most expensive buildings on 5th Avenue!!

    A “red-tail hawk”!!

    He had made a nest because the building had put all these hideous (anti nest)m metal and plastic spikes! It helped hold the branches and sticks in place!

    He and his mate…..hatched the first red-tail hawks recorded in New York City in something like 80 my ears!


    ps he is still alive….just hatched some more!

    Bravo Pale Male!

    Thank you for your terrific blog!!!!

  2. cattychick Says:

    1961. The same year that Breakfast At Tiffany’s was filmed in Manhattan. My family had just left NYC for Pennsylvania. I was a baby. And to this day, I wish I’d spent all of my life in The City. Because there is only one City, and it’s the heartbeat of the world.

  3. billybeyond Says:

    Reblogged this on billy beyond's blog.

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