Secrets of Central Park

Secrets of Central Park

I have read of lot of literature about the Secrets of Central Park over the years, and everyone has their own classification of what fits in under this category. I have chosen to write about the secrets that are hiding in plain sight in Central Park that I have not known all these years, and that makes it feel like I am in on the inside now that I do know about them! These are:

  1. Original Survey Bolts 
  1. Lamp Post code 
  1. Crabs below obelisk 
  1. Henry Bliss  
  1. Oak Bridge 
  1. Bethesda Terrace Pillars 
  1. Waterfalls all have drinking water 
  2. Secret Memorial Christmas Tree for Pets


1. Original Survey Bolts 

In the early 1800s, when Manhattan was being transformed into the grid we know it as today, the project started with marking out the intersections with bolts that were driven into the ground. At least one of these bolts can still be seen in Central Park, if you know where to look! It is at an unmarked location on the East side, and is driven into a rock that is not immediately visible from any of the established roads and paths. I understand the location is kept secret so it is not damaged and/or removed.   

While it looks like just a small metal piece jutting out of a rock, I find it to be a fascinating piece of New York’s history. And yes, these are all photographs that I have taken.  I believe there are 2 more such bolts in Central Park, which I am on a quest to find!! 

2. Lamp Post code 

I have crossed – and photographed – thousands of the lamp posts in Central Park over the years, and it was only recently that I discovered each of these has a code on them! The code consists of a series of numbers, with the first two or three representing the street, and the last number indicating you are on the West side if it is an odd number, and on the East side if it is an even number.   

Here are a few that I have photographed for this post, can you tell what the cross streets are by the code? 

3. Crabs below Obelisk

The obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle is an imposing sight right across the Metropolitan Museum on the East side of Central Park. The obelisk dates back to ancient Egypt, and made its way to New York in the 19th Century. The base of the obelisk has chipped away over the years, and it is held in place by bronze crabs! These are easy to miss as one tends to get lost in the grandeur of the obelisk, but look carefully at the base and the crabs are hiding there in plain sight. 

4. Henry Bliss plaque 

West 74th Street and Central Park West is marked by a historical plaque that marks the spot of the first known motor car fatality in the US on September 13, 1899 of Henry H. Bliss.  It is a good reminder of being careful around cars for jaywalking New Yorkers! 

5, Oak Bridge 

Oak Bridge offers stunning views of Manhattan through Central Park. I particularly like the view when I can get Oak Bridge and the buildings on Central Park South in the same shot. As one of the main entrances to the Ramble, it well located and used often.

What is interesting about this bridge is that the original Oak Bridge was built of okay and did not survive, and was recently reconstructed to look like the original, but this time around it is made of metal to withstand the elements. 

6. Bethesda Terrace Pillars 

While I write about Bethesda Terrace in a couple of posts about Central Park, a really fun secret about the Terrace that is hiding in plain sight – and that I learned just recently – is that the pillars flanking the stairs on the Mall side feature 3 images on each pillar depicting day on one and night on the other. 

The pillars to the right in the picture above have the images of day as you can see below.

The pillars to the left in the picture above have the images of night as you can see below.

7. Waterfalls in Central Park all have drinking water 

Central Park has a few man made waterfalls, and while these are not imposing in their size, they add to the charm of the park in many ways.  An interesting fact about these is that all the water in them is the same drinking water we get in our apartments!  

8. Secret Pet Memorial Christmas Tree

There is a secret memorial Christmas Tree for pets in Central Park. Its location is within the Ramble, but no one identifies the exact spot within the 36 acres that it is located in. I stumbled upon it entirely by chance, and have written a post about visiting it here.


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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.

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