When Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead designed Central Park in 1858, their “Greensward Plan” accommodated three types of visitors: pedestrians, horses with riders and carriages. By cleverly placing bridges and arches, visitors were able to move freely about the park without getting run over, by navigating the paths under and around the park’s drives and bridle paths.
While I highlighted some of my favorite bridges last year, I thought it was time to feature a few more. We’ll start on the east side of the park, head south, then up the west side and north.
This is one of my favorites, Trefoil Arch. It’s the only bridge with a different design on each side. This is the round side, facing west, covered in piles of ivy.
This is the Southwest Reservoir Bridge on a windy autumn day. It’s one of the cast iron bridges, with floral motifs on its spandrels.
There are 36 bridges and arches in the park. Each bridge is different and is designed for its location, often with ornate details and beautiful views. They fall into two classes: those made of brick, stone or rock, and cast-iron.
This is Glade Arch, near 78th and Fifth. It had to be completely renovated after a snowplow wiped out most of its balustrades in the 1980s.
Dalehead Arch, made of sandstone and brownstone.
Greyshot Arch has beautiful fleurs-de-lis on the balustrades.
This is Dipway Arch, almost petite as these bridges go. it’s granite on the outside with a red brick underpass, its original cast iron railings intact.
Here’s a real beauty, Riftstone Arch, one of the “natural” bridges (nothing in Central Park is natural, it’s all constructed and designed). It’s very wide; when you walk under it, the city seems to disappear.
This arch allows horses to pass under the drive as it exits at 72nd Street. That’s the famous Dakota apartment building just left of center in the distance, on Central Park West.
The lovely Eaglevale Bridge near 77th Street on the west side. It’s made of gneiss and was constructed in 1890.
This is Balcony Bridge, which has two little balconies on its east side for tired travelers to sit on its stone benches while enjoying a view of the Lake. You can see one of the balconies sticking out below.
Up near 103rd Street, we’re at Glen Span Bridge, with a stream running through it. Once made of wood, it was replaced with stone. It’s fantastic; every time I walk through, I wonder what’s keeping it from falling on my head. Its footpath leads to the North Woods.
And we’ll finish with one of the Park’s most secluded arches, the pretty Springbanks Arch, lost in the greenery of the North Woods.
If you’d like to see other Central Park bridges as pinholes, here’s a link to an earlier post.