Bethesda Terrace Arcade’s Tiles
Find it: Mid-park at 72nd Street
Be sure to look up as you walk through the Bethesda Terrace Arcade, which connects the Bethesda Fountain to the Mall. The ceiling of this 1860s beauty is covered in 15,000 tiles made by England’s Minton Tile Company. This the only place in the world where the patterned tiles are installed on a ceiling.
Find it: Fifth Avenue and 105th Street
The park’s only formal garden has 6 acres of seasonal plants divided into sections by design style: English, French and Italian. At the center of the English garden, you’ll find a fountain with a statue based on characters from children’s literary classic The Secret Garden.
Find it: Fifth Avenue and 84th Street
Paul Manship, creator of Rockefeller Center’s Prometheus statue, sculpted the intricate depictions of five of Aesop’s Fables that decorate these bronze gates. They serve as passage to the park’s Ancient Playground. Two similarly decorative entrances are further north: Engineers’ Gate and Vanderbilt Gate.
Delacorte Music Clock
Find it: Fifth Avenue and 64th Street
Time your trip to the Central Park Zoo just right so you don’t miss the next secret. Every half hour this whimsical piece comes to life, as nursery rhymes play and bronze animal sculptures rotate around the clock. The music changes with the season: you’ll hear nursery rhymes, spring-themed songs or, most festive, holiday tunes.
Find it: Behind the Met Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
The 70-foot, 220-ton, hieroglyphic-covered granite obelisk (originally commissioned by an Egyptian pharaoh in 1450 BC) was gifted to America in 1880. The name is a bit of a misnomer, though, as the obelisk has no connection with the Egyptian queen.
Hallett Nature Sanctuary
Find it: Southeast corner at 61st Street
You’ll feel miles away from NYC relaxing on a rustic bench in this 4-acre nature preserve. Predominantly a bird sanctuary, it’s also home to raccoons, rabbits, fish, turtles, ducks and woodchucks. Don’t miss the hidden waterfall just outside the exit.
Find it: Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard at 109th Street
Long before Central Park existed, this small stone fort in the North Woods was erected to protect New York City against the British during the War of 1812. If you look closely, you can even see the gun ports that soldiers used in the event of an attack.
Find it: Throughout the park
Even seasoned New Yorkers may not know that each of the park’s 1,600 cast-iron lampposts do more than just add light. Look for the numbers affixed to each pole. The first pair tells you which street you’re closest to; if the following pair is even you are closer to the park’s east side, while odd means west.
Find it: Mid-park at 105th Street
This arch, perhaps the most picturesque of the 20-odd stone bridges in the park, is an incredible feat; the huge, uncut boulders are held together not by mortar but by gravity and pressure. Even more impressive: built back in 1866, it supports traffic over the Loch to the park’s East Drive.
Summit Rock and Seneca Village
Find it: Central Park West and 83nd Street
At nearly 142 feet, Summit Rock sits at the highest natural elevation in Central Park, and the surrounding area holds a hidden history: it’s where Seneca Village, NYC’s first community of free African American property owners, was founded nearly 200 years ago. To learn more about Central Park, see our comprehensive guide.
Secrets of Central Park
Central Park is a wonder, stretching more than 50 blocks smack in the middle of Manhattan. Its lush acres hold seemingly endless green spaces, sparkling ponds, towering trees—and lots of secrets. Come along as we expose our favorite little-known attractions, some historically significant locales and a surprising navigational feature many New Yorkers don’t even know about. Click through to see them, and then go see them for yourself on your next visit.