Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms, photo by Rachel Fawn Alban

In 1857, the city held a design competition for Central Park. The winning plan, by Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, was named ‘the Greensward Plan’ and featured an English style landscape with meadows, lakes, hills, winding pedestrian paths, and many trees to block the view of city buildings. The park was envisioned to be world class, on par with the greatest parks in London and Paris.

In today’s post, we focus on some of the most naturalistic features and areas of the park that were included in the original Greensward Plan. Like all the landscapes in Central Park, these beautiful areas are all man-made in areas that were irregular, containing swamps and farms. Most of that was completely razed, though some existing trees and many rock outcrops were incorporated into the plan. These naturalistic areas and elements were intended by the designers to allow city dwellers to connect with nature and experience the change that comes with seasons, weather conditions, and different times of day.

THE RAMBLE photographed by Rachel Fawn Alban

1. The Ramble

The Ramble, a 38 acre woodland in the middle of the Park, is a quiet oasis from the busy city. Here Central Park is at its most naturalistic, with walking paths winding through the trees.

When the park first opened for public use in the winter of 1859, some areas were still being developed, including the Ramble. Check out this  1869 New York Times article that describes how “those ladies, and all other persons who have failed to visit it, have deprived themselves of a great deal of pleasure.” The dated language makes it comical, but it is fascinating to read about the vision of the Ramble by original design.

Where to find  it: The Ramble is located Mid-Park from 73rd – 79th Streets

Steps down to the Ramble Cave