Bethesda Terrace

The southern part of Central Park, around 72nd Street
New York, NY

Submitted by: Ben Fried

A formal terrace surrounded by diverse and picturesque natural scenery--the heart of Central Park.

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Why It Works

Beautiful landscapes, formal walkways, magnificent sculpture, and glistening bodies of water all converge at Bethesda Terrace. It is the culmination of the Mall, Central Park's grand promenade. As you approach the Terrace from the Mall, one of Olmsted and Vaux's signature vistas opens up before you. Below you see the "Angel of the Waters" or Bethesda Fountain as it is often called, the only sculpture commissioned as part of the original design of the Park. Past the fountain, you catch the first glimpse of the Lake, and the mature trees of the Ramble across the water. Above the trees, capping the whole scene, rise the spires of Belvedere Castle in the distance.

The Terrace is one place where you can always find a nice crowd. Vendors entice people to sit down and have a bite to eat, and the seating abounds--you can sit comfortably by the fountain, on benches, or on movable chairs. Rented rowboats float by on the Lake, adding to the scenery.

What Makes Bethesda Terrace a Great Place?

You could say that in Central Park, all roads lead to Bethesda Terrace. Many paths in the park wind their way to the Terrace or the Mall, which itself leads to the Terrace.

The Terrace is a place that gives you an uncontrollable urge to stop and sit for a while. Seating is so plentiful, there's almost always a spot to rest and take in the scene, even during the busiest times of year.

The space is a crossroads, and would be heavily used even if there was no programming. The rowboat rental on the Lake and aerobics classes on the Terrace are some of the planned activities that add to the place.

It's hard to imagine a more sociable place than Bethesda Terrace. Young and old, tourists and New Yorkers alike use this space together.

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