Central Park Sailboat Pond

The southeastern part of Central Park
New York, NY

Submitted by: Josh Kent

An outstanding water feature, and one of the main attractions in Central Park.

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Why It Works

The draw of the Sailboat Pond is more than just the chance to get your feet wet; it is the combination of elements that attract people and bring the place to life. The place is a huge attraction for families, school children, strollers, street performers, tourists, and birders looking for the resident red-tailed hawks. Kids climb the Alice in Wonderland statue and enjoy ice cream on sunny summer days, while adults relax by the cafe and take in the scene. The diversity of users makes this one of the most sociable places in New York.

What Makes Central Park Sailboat Pond a Great Place?

The Sailboat Pond can be accessed from all sides. To this day I still get excited as I walk down one of the many paths leading towards it, always speeding up as I get closer. The Pond has vital linkages to other parts of Central Park, such as the nearby zoo, as well as to the museums, shops, and cafes on 5th Avenue and Madison. A visitor at the Pond also has an important physical access to the center point of the space – the water. One can walk around the water, touch the water, and watch other people enjoy the water.

Water also gives the space a sense of comfort and serenity – a calm oasis in the middle of the city. Adding to the place's sense of comfort are the numerous options for rest and relaxation -- benches facing the water, a sitting wall along the water, moveable seating around the café, and areas to find shade and sun.

The café and food carts, the model sailboat rentals, the street performers, the statue climbing, and the people-watching all support the sociability and image of the place.

The multitude of uses and activities draws not just model sailboat aficionados, but families, school children, snackers, strollers, street performers, tourists, New Yorkers, and birders looking for the resident red-tailed hawks. This diversity of people only makes the space better and leads to the enormous everyday sociability of the place.

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