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Central Park

The Bridges of Central Park - Playmates Arch

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 gneiss boulders, fashioned from the rock outcrops. Modification to the path system over the years has resulted in the creation of four additional arches and the destruction of three original ones.

Playmates Arch, so named because it connects the Dairy and the Carousel, is the most prominent features of the Children’s District. The arch carries the Center Drive and was built between 1861 and 1863. It is made of Philadelphia pressed brick, Milwaukee yellow brick, and granite, leading some visitors to nickname it the "tricolor archway."

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