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Central Park

The Bridges of Central Park

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 had to create a compact system of bridges and arches that allowed separate levels of pathways. Vaux and his assistant Jacob Wrey Mould (1825-1886) created 35 uniquely ornamented bridges of varying materials: brick, granite, marble, cast-iron, rustic wood, and rusticated schist boulders fashioned from rock outcropping. Modification to the path system since the park’s construction has created four additional arches and the destruction of three original ones.

Huddlestone Arch, named for its piled boulder design, carries the West Drive near Harlem Meer. Vaux designed and supervised construction of this rustic bridge in 1866, fashioning it from boulders found in the park. The naturalistic effect made Huddlestone unique among its more ornate companions, though its general character and function is the same as the other arches in the Ravine slightly sunken into the park landscape in order to preserve the integrity of its forest setting.

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