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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

There are currently 4 service interruptions affecting access within this park.

ParkCentral Park

Raccoons in Central Park have tested positive for canine distemper virus. Although the virus cannot be transmitted to humans, it may be transmitted to dogs. Keep your pets safe in the park.

Please avoid wildlife and make sure your pets have up-to-date distemper and rabies vaccines. Keep your pet on a leash, especially during dawn and dusk.

Please call 311 or notify an on-site Parks employee if you see a sick or injured animal.

If you are bitten, wash the wound with soap and water immediately. Call your doctor to see if you need tetanus or rabies shots, and call 311 to report the bite.

The Health Department will continue to monitor this condition.


Anticipated Completion: Summer 2018

ParkCentral Park

Beginning June 27, 2018, Central Park will become entirely car-free. The Central Park transverse roads at 97th, 86th, 79th and 65th Streets will remain open to motor vehicles.

Nature CentersBelvedere Castle Visitor Center

Beginning Monday, February 26, Belvedere Castle will be closed for restoration. The castle will reopen to the public in 2019. To reach our Urban Park Rangers at Central Park, please call (212) 360-1444.

ParkCentral Park

Beginning Monday, February 26, Belvedere Castle will be closed for restoration. The surrounding plaza and terrace remain open, but will also close in the coming weeks. The Belvedere will reopen to the public in 2019. For more information on the restoration of Belvedere Castle, please visit Central Park Conservancy's website.

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