NYC Resources311Office of the Mayor

Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Central Park

The Bridges of Central Park - Bow Bridge

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 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 rock outcrops. Subsequent changes in the system of paths led to tearing down three of the original arches and the construction of four others.

Bow Bridge, shaped like an archer's bow, was built between 1859 and 1862. It connects the Ramble and Cherry Hill, and spans more than 60 feet of the Lake. Because the south bank was higher than the north, construction of the cast iron bridge included raising the height of its northern abutment. Janes, Kirkland, and Co., the firm responsible for the dome of The Capitol in Washington, D.C., did the ironwork for the span of Bow Bridge. Vaux and Mould created the ornamental iron railing that incorporates elements of Gothic, Neo-Classical, and Renaissance design.

Directions to Central Park

Know Before You Go

ParkCentral Park

As of March 17, the Delacorte Clock will be briefly closed for repair and restoration.
Anticipated Completion: Spring 2017

Central Park Weather

  • Thu
    Sunny
    43°F
  • Fri
    Chance Rain
    52°F
  • Sat
    Mostly Cloudy
    64°F
  • Sun
    Rain Likely
    45°F

7-day forecast

Was this information helpful?