Vista Rock & Tunnel
Vista Rock is the second highest Manhattan schist outcrop in Central Park (the highest being the 137.5 foot Summit Rock at Central Park West and 83rd Street). At a height of 130 feet, Vista Rock is named for its excellent views of the entire park. When the Board of Commissioners of Central Park held the park design competition in 1858, their rules stipulated that each entry include four transverse roads to carry cross-town traffic through the park. The winners, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) and Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), proposed to sink these transverse roads below the grade of the park; this brilliant idea was one of the distinguishing features of their winning Greensward Plan and one likely reason for their success. Vista Rock was a major impediment to the construction of the 79th Street transverse road. Creating a tunnel required a major feat of engineering, and blasting had to be done with gunpowder, as dynamite had not yet been invented.
Clarence Cook described the tunnel in his 1869 book A Description of New York Central Park: "Under that portion of the rock that lies just south of the Belvedere is the tunnel, constructed at great expense, for carrying the second of the traffic-roads...This tunnel was completed in January 1861, and, after a careful examination, the roof was found to be sound and firm. The length of the tunnel is one hundred and forty-six feet, and the height of the roof above the center of the roadway is seventeen feet ten inches. Its width of forty feet is the same as that of the road it spans, all traffic-roads having the same dimensions."
The tunnel so delighted 19th century park visitors that builders added steps leading to the transverse road, a feature unique among the park's roads. The rock dome of the tunnel still inspires visitors to appreciate the difficulties builders faced working with limited technology in the creation of Central Park.
Directions to Central Park
Know Before You Go
There are currently 2 service interruptions affecting access within this park.
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
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.
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
- Good Morning America Summer Concert: Hozier
- Exhibition: Living Landmarks
- Central Park Tour: Iconic Views of Central Park
- Central Park Tour: Northern Welcome Tour
- Shakespeare in the Park: Cymbeline
- 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:
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