At 135 feet above sea level, Great Hill is one of the highest points in Central Park. It is part of a chain of rock outcrops that stretches across the park at 106th Street, an area that was originally part of the town of Harlem. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Great Hill was called Mount Prospect because it offered unobstructed views of the Hudson River, then known as the North River. The hill provided an excellent place to protect Manhattan from a western attack during the Revolutionary War (1776-1783). Evidence of British and Hessian military encampments, such as pot hooks, bayonets, and even sod breastwork walls, surfaced while the park was under construction in the 1860s.
When the Board of Commissioners of Central Park held the park design competition in 1858, their rules stipulated that each entry include an observation tower. The winners, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) and Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), initially chose to put their tower on Great Hill. The tower was never built. Instead, they redesigned Great Hill as a northern destination for visits by horse carriage, offering cool breezes and beautiful views.
In the 1940s, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) turned Great Hill into a recreation area with tennis, horseshoe, and volleyball courts, as well as an oval track. Aside from the comfort station, the track is the only original feature that remains. In 1985, the Central Park Conservancy, a non-profit agency which co-manages Central Park along with Parks, restored the area as the green lawn of Olmsted and Vaux's design. The Conservancy replanted the woodland edge, and reconstructed the steps and paths leading down to the pool, using the 1858 plan as their guide.
Directions to Central Park
Know Before You Go
There are currently 2 service interruptions affecting access within this park.
East 72nd St Playground
The East 72nd St Playground is closed for construction. It will reopen this summer. Central Park Conservancy is renovating the playground to improve its accessibility and connection to the park's landscape. Please visit the Central Park Conservancyfor more information.
As of April 27, Central Park's Bow Bridge is closed to the public for structural work and a fresh coat of paint. The work is expected to last three to four months. Removing the old paint will require wrapping the bridge in a tent-like structure to prevent debris from falling into the water. Along with repainting, the work will include replacing the wooden decking, fixing several beams on the underside of the span, and reinforcing approaches at either end.
Anticipated Completion: Summer 2015
Central Park Weather
- NYC Parks Celebrates A Decade Since Unveiling The Gates In Central Park, Looks Forward To Art In Parks In 2015
- This Weekend In Parks
- Tomorrow's World: The New York World's Fairs And Flushing Meadows Park On View At The Arsenal Gallery
- It's My Park Under the Urban Tree Canopy
- Central Park Tour: Hallett Nature Sanctuary and the Pond
- Central Park Tour: Conservatory Garden
- Drifting in Daylight
- Central Park Tour: Mid-Park Welcome Tour
- Baseball Fields
- Basketball Courts
- Bicycling and Greenways
- Dog-friendly Areas
- Fitness Equipment
- Great Trees
- Handball Courts
- Historic Houses
- Horseback Riding Trails
- Ice Skating Rinks
- Nature Centers
- Outdoor Pools
- Paddleboat Rentals
- Recreation Centers
- Soccer Fields
- Spray Showers
- Tennis Courts
- Volleyball Courts
- Wi-Fi Hot Spots
- Zoos and Aquariums
Know when to go:
View upcoming athletic area usage in