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NYC - Central Park: Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle, sitting upon Vista Rock in Central Park, was designed as an additional feature of the Central Park plan by Calvert Vaux and the sculptor Jacob Wrey Mould, when the team of Olmsted, Vaux and Mould were reappointed to oversee the park's construction in 1865. Built in 1869, it capped the natural-looking woodlands of The Ramble, as seen from the formal Bethesda Terrace, but as the plantings matured, the castle has disappeared from its original intended viewpoint.

 

When it was built, Belvedere Castle provided a vista over the rectangular receiving reservoir, which has been replaced by the Great Lawn, and Turtle Pond, redesigned as a naturalistic planting.

 

The castle housed the New York Meteorological Observatory, which was taken over by the United States Weather Bureau in 1912. It is still the site at which meteorological data is collected for Central Park.

 

Belvedere Castle, the object of much vandalism and deterioration, was closed to the public in the 1960s. It was restored and reopened by the Central Park Conservancy on May 1, 1983. In 1995, the Conservancy's Historic Preservation Crew replaced the painted wooden loggia of the castle, working from Vaux's designs, on the granite piers and walls that had survived. The original design, represented in a published lithograph (Rosensweig and Blackmar 1992 p 203), had called for a more weighty granite structure with a corner tower with conical cap, to balance the mass of the main castle structure to the east, with the existing lookout over parapet walls between them.

 

Central Park was designated a scenic landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1974.

 

National Historic Register #66000538

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Taken on June 30, 2012