The Hallett Nature Sanctuary was once one of the best kept secrets of the immensely popular landmark, Central Park. Located on the southeast corner of the park, close to the Plaza Hotel and other notable destinations, the 4-acre Hallett Sanctuary has been closed off for 69 years, the result of an experiment by the NYC Parks Department and Robert Moses to see what would happen to the biodiversity and landscape of an area of Central Park was left to its own devices. Moses, in particular, hoped it would become a bird sanctuary.
In 2001, the the Central Park Conservancy began to maintain it – removing invasive species and reintroducing native plants. Starting in 2013, it was open on special visits (like the tour we took in 2014) and on certain days of the week in the summer months. But today, the New York Times announced that the Hallett Sanctuary will be open regularly, three days a week through June 30th from 2-5 pm and four days a week from July 1st to August 31st. A new gate, in a rustic wood style, has been installed, and benches on the Promontory were donated by Tehran-immigrant Sima Ghadamian and her husband Morad.
Even after 2013 however, caring for the Hallet Sanctuary was a a bit different than there rest of the park. A tree that fell from Hurricane Sandy was left to become part of the habitat. As Doug Blonsky, the Conservancy Park Conservancy’s President & CEO says, Hallett Sanctuary “feels natural, but it reminds us how manmade Central Park is.”
Access the Hallett Sanctuary via the East Side of Central Park from 60th-62nd Streets just south of Wollman Rink. Tickets to Central Park Horse and Carriage Tour with Lunch/Dinner at Tavern on the Green can be purchased here.
Next, read about the Top 10 Secrets of Central Park.
Michelle is the founder of Untapped New York. She is the author of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants, and Broadway. She is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture.