3. The Ramble’s Role in LGBT History

Another aspect of the Ramble is its important role in LGBT history. The secluded area has been known as a gay cruising spot since at least the early 20th century. In the 1920s, this lawn with the mature tupelo tree (pictured) was referred to as the “fruited plain.”For many years, the Ramble was regarded as a seedy area, however, in reality the individuals who went there for sex were more often the victims than perpetrators of crime.

Eventually, during the late 1970s, there was a series of very brutal attacks on gay men in the Ramble. One proposed idea to manage the area was to develop a seniors’ center there – a dismissive solution to the real problem of hate crime – which fortunately was rejected. Today, the Ramble has a visible police presence. Nature walks and bird watching seem to be a bigger draw than sex cruising – though unsurprisingly we have stumbled upon several couples (gay and straight) making out.

Where to find it:  This three-trunked black tupelo tree is thought to pre-date the Park, from around 1862. It sits in its own meadow in the middle of the Ramble, near the West 70s.

Central Park Grotto Waterfall, photo by Rachel Fawn Alban