New York Architecture Images- Central Park

Loeb Boathouse and the Lake


Central Park Lake on East Drive
  CP005-14.jpg (55259 bytes)CP005-16.jpg (55663 bytes)CP005-17.jpg (49461 bytes)CP005-19.jpg (53749 bytes)
  CP005-28.jpg (54432 bytes)CP005-21.jpg (50736 bytes)CP005-23.jpg (54365 bytes)CP005-26.jpg (45437 bytes)
Bethesda Terrace

Sculptor: Emma Stebbins (1815-1882)
Date: 1868; Placed in Park: 1873
Donor: City of New York
Material: Bronze figures, blue stone lower basin

In their 1858 Greensward Plan, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux called the architectural heart of the Park "The Water Terrace," for its placement beside the Lake and the grand fountain in the center. Once the Angel of the Waters fountain was unveiled in 1873, however, the area became forever known as Bethesda Terrace. At the dedication, the artist's brochure quoted the Biblical verse from the Gospel of St. John 5:2-4: "Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called Bethesda whoever then first after the troubling of the waters stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had." The artist likened the healing powers of the angel to that of the clean and pure Croton water, delicately cascading down the fountain, that brought health to the people of New York City. The lily in her hand represents purity while the four figures below represent Peace, Health, Purity, and Temperance.

Loeb Boathouse

With their 1858 landscaping plan under construction, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux began adding architectural features to their Park design. Around 1874, Vaux designed a two-story boathouse at the eastern end of the Lake. Here visitors could purchase refreshments, take boat rides, and watch other boats. After this wooden Victorian structure with sloping mansard roof burned down, the current Loeb Boathouse took its place in the 1950s.

Today at the Boathouse visitors can enjoy a meal in any season, with overhead heating helping to extend as long as possible the pleasure of dining on the deck overlooking the Lake. More informal snacks are available on the outside terrace across from the bicycle rental concession. At Loeb you can also rent rowboats or take a ride in an authentic Venetian gondola. This is more than a ride, it is an "event" – with luck, your gondolier might just break into song at some point in the trip.

To the west of the Boathouse entrance, at the entrance to the Ramble, is a small, wire-fenced area where the Conservancy along with volunteers is experimenting with growing wildflowers that attract butterflies. To date, 26 species of butterfly have been spotted. July and August are the best times to butterfly watch.

Visitors also come to the Boathouse to record their observations of birds and other Park wildlife in the "Bird Register." This unprepossessing 2-inch loose-leaf notebook kept in the Boathouse documents the incredible compendium of wildlife in the Park. Birders record birds seen or heard or document a small wildlife drama witnessed in one of the Park's landscapes.

Most Central Park birders make entries – in fact there is at least one entry for every day in 1998. On December 12, 1998, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn wrote, "Enjoyed [the book] Red-Tails in Love – we've been birdwatchers for the past 10 years in about 15 nations and in a number of states. Glad to know the red-tails were seen yesterday. Have about 750 birds on our list. Hope to come back to Central Park and will." Birding aficionados report that 750 birds is an exceptional amount!

Some entries provide surprising information to birders. For example, the sighting of two snow geese at the Harlem Meer is rare in this area. And a growing number and variety of red-headed woodpeckers are being spotted on the west side of the Great Lawn. Some birds inspire nicknames – such as L.E.O., the long eared owl that has returned the last four years to a Norway spruce at Cedar Hill, and Pale Male of Marie Winn's Red-Tails in Love.

Visitors should feel free to enter their observations and be part of this Central Park tradition.


Boathouse Wide Angle

The Lake

At the heart of Central Park is the Lake. Created out of a large swamp, the 22-acre Lake was intended to provide boating in the summer and ice-skating in the winter. Opened for skating in 1858 at a time when the winters were
particularly harsh it was said to accommodate up to 40,000 visitors on one day alone. Not until 1950 when its was closed to skating did the Park
winter change dramatically. Replaced for skating by the Wollman Rink, the Lake was returned to nature and the wildlife residents who now dominate it no matter what the season. With its unique meandering shoreline the exploration of this body of water is invited by its visual aura and romantic charm. With its many spectacular views offered from every angle of the travelers journey along its perimeter it is well worth the time it takes to explore its unique perimeter. In the spring and summer and for a month in autumn rowboats cross the watery vista at times appearing inimical to the total Lake experience. Visitors enjoyed this pastime since the Park opened in the 19th Century when "passage boats" carrying 12 passengers at a time
would take visitors around the Lake, stopping for departures and arrivals at 6 boat landings located along the shore of the lake. Four of those boat landing still exist providing shelter for those who want a serene place to rest while
taking in the majestic view of the Lake with its Mute Swans, many ducks and if you are lucky a Great Egret or a Black-crowned Night-Heron.
The Gondola Ride which is now a source of interest and amusement for many who visit the Park was, in fact, a fixture from the past when the authentic Venetian craft crossed the Lake with romantics who soaked in the ambiance to the strains of "O Solo Mio" a song you can still hear from the
shoreline as the gondolier of today strives for the original authenticity.




thanks to &