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.
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.
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.
Image via Wikimedia Commons from the British Library
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 New York Public Library Digital Collections has many stereographic images of the arch:
Image via NYPL from the summer of 1865
Image via NYPL
The Marble Arch is not the only casualty in Central Park. Read on for the Top 10 Secrets of Central Park.