Central Park is popular with residents and visitors alike for its green spaces, waterways and many things to do and see. All around it are great Art Deco buildings and some of the best art and entertainment in the world.
Central Park is truly enormous: 840 acres of zoos (2), ice rinks, various sporting and recreational facilities, lakes and ponds and acres of trees. We have only really scratched the surface of what this peaceful area has to offer - and I don't like zoos!
It wasn't always such a beautiful place - it took 20,000 labourers 20 years to create the beautiful woodland, lakes and attractions.
Central Park is surrounded by hundreds of tall buildings, a number of which are fine examples of Art Deco. The building at 55 Central Park West is significant to Ghostbusters fans as the haunted apartment block otherwise known as Spook Central, location of the final apocalyptic climax to the movie.
West of "Spook Central" is the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts - another location in Ghosbusters at the famous fountains.
Another famous location from Ghostbusters is the Tavern on the Green in the Park where Rick Moranis is chased by a terrifying red-eyed demon hound! We had a rather more pleasant time there in 2015 cooling off from the intense heat with a couple of beers.
The Strawberry Fields area of the Park is dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, who was gunned down in 1980 as he walked home to the Dakota Building which is located across Central Park West from the memorial.
About half way down the east side of the park is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Founded in 1870 it moved to its present home ten years later, the current building being begun in the early twentieth century and new wings steadily added. It has a huge collection of paintings, sculpture, artefacts, costumes and all manner of art from all over the world and many civilisations. It's impossible to do justice to such big institutions unless you live nearby. Rembrandt, Dürer, Georges de la Tour, Vermeer, Raphael, Bruegel, Holbein the Younger - too many to mention by name - are all well-represented. I recommend taking a look at some American artists too, such as Winslow Homer's "Inside the Ba", Edward Hopper's "Tables for Ladies" and Edward Steichen's photograph of "The Flatiron" (which we finally got to see up close in 2015). I haven't yet made it to the Cloisters - the branch of the museum in Fort Tryon Park which houses a collection of medieval art, including the famous unicorn tapestries.
The Museum of Natural History is on the opposite side of the Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We didn't visit but the subway here on 81 Street is especially nice with beautiful tiled depictions of animals and birds.
We had a great lunch at Burke and Wills on W 79th St - terrific roo burgers and very good red wine - highly recommended!
In 2015 we'd planned to visit the top end of the Park but it was just too hot - next time!
South of the Metropolitan, but still on Fifth Avenue on the edge of the park, is the Frick Collection. Founded by Henry Clay Frick, a Pittsburgh coke and steel industrialist, the collection is housed in his former home, a large mansion on the corner of 5th and E70th. Spanning the centuries this is another fine collection, with for me, the added bonus of a Piero della Francesca: "St Simon the Apostle", though the subject has a question mark. The detail in the Giovanni Bellini "St. Francis in Ecstasy" makes this another favourite.
Both the Frick and the Metropolitan also have a good number of fine Rembrandts.
This early twentieth century mansion is worth seeing in its own right. It feels more like a very well-furnished home than an art gallery, and the central courtyard with its fountain is a peaceful place to find in the centre of the city.
On Fifth Avenue, between 88th and 89th Streets on the eastern edge of Central Park, is the Guggenheim Museum. A fantastic piece of architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright. A spiral of pale concrete creates a building quite unlike anything else in New York.
It was paid for by Solomon R. Guggenheim, an enthusiastic collector of modern art which today forms the core of the Guggenheim Museum. Inside the floors spiral upwards on a sloping ramp around the central axis of the building.
It has the largest Kandinsky collection in the world and Impressionism is strongly represented by many of the big names: Renoir, van Gogh, Degas, Manet, Cézanne plus a large number of Picassos. There is also a great Henri Rousseau "Rugby Players". For me, though, the biggest attraction is the building itself.