Known as the heart of Central Park, Bethesda Fountain and the terraces that surround it are one of the most popular attractions in New York City. The terrace was made to overlook the lake in the middle of Central Park. With many sculptures throughout the terrace and the landscaped gardens and fountain at the center, this has become one of the highlights of Central Park.
Located at 72nd
Street Cross Drive, Bethesda Terrace, provides views of the woods and Central
Park Lake. It was one of the first architectural structures to be built within
Central Park. The construction of the terrace began in 1859, and it continued
to be built throughout the years of the Civil War. The final structure was
finished in 1863. Bethesda Terrace includes both an upper and a lower terrace.
They are connected by two staircases on the sides, and a smaller staircase
leading directly to the Mall, which is a long pathway that leads straight to
The terrace was
constructed from New Brunswick sandstone, Roman brink, and granite for the
landings and steps. The upper terrace is on the side of 72nd street,
and is the place where many tourists see the amazing views that Central Park
has to offer. The lower terrace connects the Mall and views of the legendary
The designers of
the terrace, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, both agreed that their
plan would include nature and not only architecture when designing the
structure. The stated the terrace would be known as “the heart of the park”.
Olmsted and Vaux imagined the terrace to be a place where visitors could
experience all the nature around them while participating in social events.
Bethesda Terrace was created to be a haven from the bustling New York City
The designer of
the Bethesda Fountain, Jacob Wrey Mould, supported Vaux and Olmsted and decided
to add nature to the designs of the fountain that lies on the terrace. The
decorative designs of the fountain incorporated Vaux’s ideas that he included
within the terrace. Mould carved many different aspects of nature in the
fountain including, the times of the day and the four seasons of the year. He
also included images of birds and plants that can be found near the terrace.
has changed in many different ways throughout the decades. In the 1960’s the
terrace included a restaurant that fulfilled the wishes of the designers as a
place for social events. In the 1970’s, it was used for a place for drug-trafficking
before it was restored in the 1980’s by the Central Park Conservancy. Since the
1980’s only a few changes have been made to the Bethesda Terrace. Ornamental
poles with medieval banners were added in the vista, and many old tiles have
been replaced on the steps. Today, many people visit the Bethesda Terrace in
hopes of seeing spectacular views, and hearing the sounds of the street
performers coming from the lower terrace.