I feel very lucky to call Central Park my running home. Running around the Great Lawn in the early morning is so serene, if not for the view of skyscrapers, you can almost forget you’re in New York. Over the past 5 years, I’ve learned quite a few things about the park and its history, so I wanted to share them.
- The longest loop in Central Park (called the Park Drive) is 6.02 miles. Here is the full map of running distances in the Central Park.
- There are 20 named gates in Central Park. The gates are the entrances to the park that look rather grand. The gate names were found in old maps and used in NY chatter, but it wasn’t until 1999 they were inscribed onto the stone of each gate. These are often used as meet ups for runners, especially Engineers’ Gate at 90th and 5th.
- Central Park is entirely man made. That scenery you admire on a run, including the bodies of water, is all a result of careful planning and a whole lot of plumbing. There was a large competition to see who would get to design Central Park in 1858. Two guys named Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won and designed the park you see today.
- The bridle path (the dirt roads throughout the park) is curved to prevent horse and carriage races. In the 1850s, reckless jockeys were a New York City traffic danger. But the modern day result is fun trail runs inside the park.
- If you get lost in the park, find a light post. They can tell you what block you’re near and if you’re closer to the west or east side of the park if you can read the code. The first two digits are the cross street and the second two digits let you know if you are closer to the East Side or the West Side.
- You can ring in the New Year with a 4-mile race in Central Park that starts at Midnight on January 1 (but you’ll need to line up at 11pm on December 31). My parents participated this year!
- Year-round, Central Park offers free fitness classes. For a full listing check this out.
- There is a gravel track inside the park at 103rd and West Drive. It’s sort of a random distance (1/5 mile once around).
- There are 17 restroom facilities inside the park.
- Driving in Central Park is restricted and only allowed below 72nd Street before 10am. (But don’t feel too free runners, make sure you’re not in the bike lane.)
- Not a running fact, but Matt proposed to me in the Ramble in Central Park. 🙂
Do you run in Central Park? Know any Central Park secrets you’d be willing to share? Put ’em in the comments!