The Future of Central Park’s North End

If you have never been to the northern most tip of Central Park, I highly recommend putting it on your list of things to do this season. The restoration of the park’s north end over the past four decades can be seen through the beautiful greenery and public spaces that are enjoyed by the community. Today, the Central Park Conservancy unveiled massive Lasker Rink and Pool restoration plans. This project is funded through the City of New York’s $50 million investment and the Conservancy is committed to raising $100 million for the overseeing of the design and construction.

Elizabeth W. Smith, President and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy, said “Over the past several months, we have commenced work with community boards. We hope to break ground in the Spring of 2021 and have something new to present to the East Harlem community for the pool season of 2024. We can’t wait until that moment comes.”

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Community members were consulted on what they were looking for in the park. John Reddick, project manager for community engagement said, “We’ve been meeting with people in the community for more than a year. We brought together swimmers, ice skaters, hockey players, runners, and families, people who use the park in every imaginable way. We’ve listened to what they had to say. These groups all had specific concerns around their particular activities.”

 Currently, the Lasker rink and pool are housed in a concrete building that is a community eye sore. This project will remove the building and will allow the land it is built on to return to its more natural state. 
The project will also expand boardwalks across a series of small islands. The marshland, now covered up, will become more accessible and will support the natural flowing water works in the park. People who like to fish, bird watch or stroll will have much more natural land to enjoy.

Boardwalk North End Central Park

Huddlestone Arch

restored north end central park

This project rejoins communities by building bridges and connecting parks. Mitchell J. Silver, the Commissioner for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said that as a runner he is looking forward to seeing the impact the new layout will have on the community. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who jokes that she always has something to complain about, said that she has nothing to complain about this time. The plans look amazing!

Let’s take a closer look at the Lasker Rink and pool restoration plans:

The facility housing, the rink and pool will be built into the ground along the eastern slope of the part. The park landscape will cover the actual building area. So looking at it from the top, it will look like a regular park, no building coming out of the ground. It will feature a green roof and will include a space for public gatherings and amenities.

North End of Central Park Renovations

Lasker Pool Renovations

The lasker rink and pool restoration will create a ground level building with large floor-to-ceiling glass doors with wood columns. The facility will have everything needed for a day at the pool, including locker rooms and concessions. In the winter, the pool changes into an ice skating rink.

Lasker Pool Project

Lasker Pool Updates

The Chairman of the Central Park Conservancy Board of Trustees, Thomas Kempner Jr, said, “We are no longer concerned with saving Central Park as we were 40 years ago. We understand all too well that the park is fragile. This project reflects our ongoing collaboration between our organization and the city of New York. We are the oldest and most successful public-private partnership in the entire world. We look forward to seeing this project to its completion.”

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If you are interested in visiting the Harlem Meer (East side of Central Park from 106th to 110th Street) make sure to check out these special places:

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center

Built in 1993, the centers offers many free educational programs and exhibits. There is a Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla coming up next month, and the annual Holiday Lighting event in the winter.

Huddlestone Arch

This beautiful construction is considered to be the most remarkable of all the Central Park arches. It was designed in 1866 by Calvert Vaux and is said to weigh 100 tons.

The Loch

Scottish for “lake” this body of water winds through the ravine and is in part, fed by a natural water source. Flowing under the Glen Span and Huddlestone arches, in several places it creates magnificent cascades.

North Woods

This peaceful and secluded area of Central Park feels like you are out of the city. It is one of three woodlands in the park, which offer people a chance to experience an oasis in NYC. There are a variety of plants and wildlife to be seen. Free guided tours are available.

East 110th Street Playground

This playground was rebuilt by the Conservancy in 2013. While children play on the latest playground designs, caretakers can enjoy beautiful views of the Meer. Children can also fish with borrowed poles as part of the catch-and-release program.

Robert Bendheim Playground

Dubbed as a “playground for all children,” this space is specially designed for children with disabilities. There are tunnels and slides all equip with wheelchair- accessible ramps.

All renderings courtesy of Susan T. Rodriguez Architecture / Central Park Conservancy

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Sara Lewin Lebwohl

Sara Lewin Lebwohl

Contributor
Sara has lived in many neighborhoods around NYC including Little Italy, Union Square, the Village, and Flatiron, but she and her husband Zach now call the Upper West Side home. Sara is a mom to Halle Bella (toddler) and Prince (a very fluffy Australian labradoodle). The three of them can often be seen around the Upper West Side trying out kids classes, going to the parks and museums, and taking pictures for Prince’s instagram page which you can follow here: @prince_in_the_city

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