The Key to Safe Streets: Five Cities Humanizing Street Design
Case Studies 

Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

*Nominee 

Bethesda Terrace

New York

NY

USA

Contributed by 
Ben Fried
Project for Public Spaces
 on 
May 7, 2003
December 14, 2017

A formal terrace surrounded by diverse and picturesque natural scenery--the heart of Central Park.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Beautiful landscapes, formal walkways, magnificent sculpture, and glistening bodies of water all converge at Bethesda Terrace. It is the culmination of the Mall, Central Park's grand promenade. As you approach the Terrace from the Mall, one of Olmsted and Vaux's signature vistas opens up before you. Below you see the "Angel of the Waters" or Bethesda Fountain as it is often called, the only sculpture commissioned as part of the original design of the Park. Past the fountain, you catch the first glimpse of the Lake, and the mature trees of the Ramble across the water. Above the trees, capping the whole scene, rise the spires of Belvedere Castle in the distance.

The Terrace is one place where you can always find a nice crowd. Vendors entice people to sit down and have a bite to eat, and the seating abounds--you can sit comfortably by the fountain, on benches, or on movable chairs. Rented rowboats float by on the Lake, adding to the scenery.

Access & Linkages

You could say that in Central Park, all roads lead to Bethesda Terrace. Many paths in the park wind their way to the Terrace or the Mall, which itself leads to the Terrace.

Comfort & Image

The Terrace is a place that gives you an uncontrollable urge to stop and sit for a while. Seating is so plentiful, there's almost always a spot to rest and take in the scene, even during the busiest times of year.

Uses & Activities

The space is a crossroads, and would be heavily used even if there was no programming. The rowboat rental on the Lake and aerobics classes on the Terrace are some of the planned activities that add to the place.

Sociability

It's hard to imagine a more sociable place than Bethesda Terrace. Young and old, tourists and New Yorkers alike use this space together.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

Related Links & Sources

Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

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