Living with Style, People, Places & Spaces, Travel Notes

Early Spring in Central Park

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Jonathan and I moved to New York in the mid-eighties, living on the West Side close to the San Remo towers shown in the image above. One reason we chose this location was to be close to Central Park (I was a contientious jogger). But that Central Park was in terrible decay and heart breakingly so. Thus, I watched in fascination as concerned citizens sprang into action, led by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, who created the Central Park Conservancy. Even the crash of 1987 did not deter this revitalization movement that bested any obstacle in their path.

Today, this glorious creation of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux — all eight-hundred and forty acres of it — is, to me, the jewel in New York City’s crown. Not a visit goes by that I do not make time to take even a short stroll into one of my very favorite “naturalistic landscapes” in the world…hillocks and valleys, vast green meadows and large water centerpieces, meandering drives and strolling paths. And well-tended gardens like those that you would see at a private home.

Early spring in the Park was a draw for many reasons, and I revelled in capturing spots or a vista that were highlights due to a flowering fruit tree or planting of tulips. Yes, I was hungry for a taste of spring but I was first anxious to re-visit a creation that inspires my awe and appreciation.

The stone work and statues alone speak volumes about the restoration work undertaken over the past thirty-five years. Olmsted’s plan also included thirty-six bridges (no two are alike!) all in beautiful condition. But for me, it is the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain Plaza that are the most impressive. Starting at the north end of the long Mall 

which is dressed up with planted marble urns and handsomely designed, sturdy benches,

you proceed across 72nd Street to look over the Terrace and Fountain Plaza.

A pair of stately, intricately detailed stairs lead down to the Terrace with its elegant brickwork.


Part of the delight of Central Park is that you get totally subsumed by the Park, forgetting that you are actually in a major city. In the words of Ms. Rogers, “You get this pleasant sense of disorientation. Turn a corner and even I can get mildly lost.”

But then there are those moments when the  city’s skyscrapers add their own touch of magic, a counterpoint to the “green metroplis” (the name of Ms. Rogers’ book) that is Central Park.

A closing note –Twenty-five years after designing Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted  in 1884 was invited to Newport to collaborate on a twenty-seven acre real estate development of summer estates. Olmsted was responsible for the picturesque layout of serpentine roads leading to residences designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White that would become part of the future “Ocean Drive district.”

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

14 thoughts on “Early Spring in Central Park

    1. Tango Dancing?!!! A new goal next time I visit Central Park. Thanks for the inspiration…

  1. It is one of the great wonders and I completely agree with Ms. Rogers comment about getting lost, disorientation and the brilliant contrast of the skyscrapers. What a gem.

    1. What a gem is right! Enjoy your next visit…and may it be soon. xB

  2. This takes me back to happy times in the park. Throughout my life…. living in NYC? trips up the seaboard from Georgia and North Carolina to Massachusetts in Spring. Many spring visits to New York and strolling grandchildren in the park. So vivid seeing this!
    Thank you , Bettie
    Lynn Ziglar

    1. Hi there, don’t we all love our memories of Central Park, and the other parks in our country. What atreasure they are!! Happy Spring, B.

  3. Bravo Bettie!
    You captured the beauty of Central Park in Springtime. For a few moments I was transported. I hope you will also consider doing a Fall pictorial . Those are my favorite times of year in the city although the Christmas windows used to draw me as well. THANK YOU

    1. Thank you so much, Barbara…and I’m definitely going to schedule a fall review. Of course, as you may know as a reader, Christmas in NY is an annual post! Cheers from Newport, xBettie

  4. What a lovely post. I haven’t seen Central Park in the spring in many years, although I do enjoy its fall colors on my yearly trips in November. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures.

    1. So glad this post provided a glimpse of a seasonal take on Central Park. Perhaps an inspiration for more spring visits? xB

  5. I just got back to San Antonio from a visit with my daughter who lives across the street from the park! She gets to walk her dog there several times a day and never gets tired of the beauty that’s there. Most of my photos this trip are of the gorgeous flowers and trees we don’t have in Texas! Thanks for the history lesson about the park too Bettie!

    1. The Park is such a treasure…and certainly a study for one from Texas!
      Continue to enjoy those trips to New York. xB

  6. I just love all of this so much. Was in NY in late April and so enjoyed all of this eye candy. Thank you for sharing.
    No to get back there Christmas time …. to see NY in its festive dress,

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