Scenic USA - New York

Belvedere Castle

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Belvedere Castle - Central Park, NYC, New York

Photo by Charles Chessler
Charles Chessler Photography

   Topping off one of the highest points in Central Park, Belvedere Castle was a large scale landmark built in 1865 primarily for decoration. Adding an element of levity atop Vista Rock, three well known designers, Calvert Vaux, sculpture Jacob Wrey Mould, and Fredrick Law Olmstead, were brought back to oversee much of the park’s completion. Designed to be constructed of Manhattan schist and dressed with grey granite, the castle was another one of the park's prominent landscape elements. Mixing design styles of Gothic and Romanesque styles, some critics looked upon the castle as merely a frivolous shell.
   Deterioration set in over the years, and the castle structure received a major renovation in 1982, introducing the Henry Luce Nature Observatory. The castle, now geared toward children, houses interactive nature exhibits, natural history artifacts, park ecological displays and microscopes for the little scientists. Field packs, containing binoculars, reference books and a map, are loaned out to guide youngsters in their explorations of the Ramble.
   Today, the castle looks over the Great Lawn, the Delacorte Theater and the Turtle Pond. In this view the Turtle Pond nurtures a mix of lizards tail, bulrush, turtlehead and blue flag iris to highlight the pond‘s border. Here in Central Park, in the midst of New York City, a variety of birds, amphibians and reptiles create a wonderful outdoor classroom for nature study.

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