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Central Park

The Bridges of Central Park - Glen Span

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

When Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) and Calvert Vaux (1824-1895) designed Central Park in 1858, they developed an innovative interwoven transportation system of pedestrian paths, bridle trails, and carriage drives. Since the park is only one-half mile wide, the designers found it necessary to create a compact system of bridges and arches that allowed for separate levels of pathways. Vaux and his assistant Jacob Wrey Mould (1825-1886) created 35 unique structures, each with its own distinct style. They used brick, granite, marble, cast iron, and rustic wood; and fashioned rusticated gneiss boulders out of the natural rock outcrops. Subsequent changes in the path system led to tearing down three of the original arches and the construction of four others.

Glen Span, is one of two rustic arches that form the boundaries of the Ravine, a wooded area in the northern end of the park. Completed in 1865, the bridge was partially rebuilt 20 years later, replacing wooden trestles with rustic stone. The picturesque arch is made of light gray gneiss. The simple ornamentation consists of geometrically shaped stones and decorative grottos embedded in the underpass. Glen Span and Huddlestone Arch, the other archway in the Ravine, are slightly sunken into the park landscape in order to preserve the integrity of the forest setting.

Directions to Central Park

Know Before You Go

There are currently 2 service interruptions affecting access within this park.

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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

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Starting June 29, 2015, Central Park Drives north of 72nd Street will be permanently car-free. For more information, please visit on.nyc.gov/1MOAh40.

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