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
Lasker Rink (Temporarily Closed)
Lasker Rink is closed due to a refrigeration malfunction. Parks is trying to repair the rink's concrete slab and valves to identify and fix the source of the leak, in the hope of reopening the rink to the public later this season.
In the meantime, the Trump Organization along with NYC Parks will work with the community and other area rinks to try to accommodate hockey and skating groups who call Lasker Rink home. Refunds will also be issued to any organizations who reserved and paid for use of the rink during the time that it will be closed.
Central Park Weather
- This Weekend In Parks
- Tomorrow's World: The New York World's Fairs And Flushing Meadows Park On View At The Arsenal Gallery
- More Than 30,000 New Yorkers Celebrate The Outdoors At Tenth Anniversary Of Adventures NYC
- Central Park Tour: West Side Stories
- Central Park Tour: North Woods
- Open Hours: Hallett Nature Sanctuary
- Central Park Tour: Heart of the Park
- Health and Race Walking
- Baseball Fields
- Basketball Courts
- Bicycling and Greenways
- Dog-friendly Areas
- Fitness Equipment
- 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