2. The Official New York City Temperature is Measured from the Top
Belvedere Castle has a long history of being an instrument for meteorological study. In 1919, the U.S. Weather Service moved into Belvedere after being forced to move from the Central Park Arsenal when plans were put in place to demolish that structure. The modifications made by the U.S. Weather Service to Belvedere created the biggest change the building had experienced since its construction in 1827. In order to equip the structure to collect weather data, the windows and doors were sealed off and the tower in the middle was removed and replaced with an antenna. It was the first time that the building had functioned as anything other than Olmsted and Vaux’s original intention of a beautiful, decorative structure. Unfortunately, the Weather Service’s move caused the castle to close to visitors. The public was barred from the castle until the 1980s.
The Weather Service also built another temperature measuring station on Vista Rock in 1922 just 100 feet from the castle. The construction was met with immediate outrage from locals because it marred the beautiful view of the Belvedere. Protests broke out and public letters to the Bureau called the new structure a “pig-sty” and an “illegal invasion.” Just a week later, the Weather Service relented and took it down, moving it to a less visible area. The weather service eventually automated its systems in the 1960s and the castle became completely abandoned.
Data, including New York City’s official temperature, continues to be collected from Belvedere castle. In addition to the Weather Service making use of its strategic location, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has collected data on temperature, humidity, and precipitation from Belvedere for over 50 years.