The Lost Marble Arch of Central Park

Marble Arch-Lost Demolished-Central Park-NYCImage via Central Park Then & Now

While it has been basically proven that there probably aren’t dinosaurs actually buried underneath Central Park, there is something equally fabulous that remains lost beneath the surface of the famous park. The Marble Arch was one of the finest pieces of architecture in Central Park, located at the end of the mall, on the opposite end of Bethesda Terrace was Marble Arch. It was unique for many reasons.

Get past the dramatic introduction of the above video for some great information about Marble Arch

First, most of the other architecture in the park is built of stone or brick. Built entirely from marble, the arch distinguished itself from its other noble neighbors and was the only bridge built of the material in the entire park. According to Edward J. Levine in the book Central Park Then & Now, the Marble Arch featured a drinking fountain, a semicircular pergola, and marble benches.

Staricase of Marble Arch-Central Park-Demolished-Lost-NYC

The marble staircases. Image via NYPL.

A description from 1869 deemed it “one of the pleasantest and most elegantly built of all these cool places for rest and refreshment.” Indeed, two marble staircases led down into a refuge beneath the archway. It also kept pedestrians safe from carriage traffic.

Interior of Marble Arch-Central Park-Demolished-Lost-NYCImage via Wikimedia Commons

Like many things lost in New York City, we have Robert Moses and his quest for automobile domination to blame. In 1938, the Central Park drives were realigned to accommodate car traffic. The arch was demolished, smashed into pieces, and buried. Writing in 2008, Levine stated, “In recent years, a scarred chunk of marble has worked its way to the surface as if declaring “Here Lies Marble Arch.”

The Municipal Archives has drawings and section diagrams of the arch from the construction:

Plan and Section of Demolished Marble Arch-Central Park-Municipal Archives-Robert Moses-NYC-2

Plan and Section of Demolished Marble Arch-Central Park-Municipal Archives-Robert Moses-NYC

The New York Public Library Digital Collections has many stereographic images of the arch:

Marble Arch-Central Park-Demolished-Lost-NYCImage via NYPL from the summer of 1865

Interior of Marble Arch-Central Park-Demolished-Lost-NYC-2Image via NYPL

The Marble Arch is not the only casualty in Central Park. Read on for the Top 10 Secrets of Central Park

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