Secrets of Central Park, p 1

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This is a private walking tour of Central Park with a focus on “secret” locations, objects and stories. I don’t expect to cover all of them but I chose the most important ones and gathered them in 2 routes. This is part 1 – South Central Park, from 59th street to the 80s.

We will walk almost half of the park up to the Reservoir. It will take approximately 2 hours. We will talk about a nature sanctuary in Central Park, the remains of lost structures, the planning of Manhattan streets, walk the paths where I think you’ve never been before.

Have American Indians really lived on the park territory? Irish and Afro-Americans? Is there anything to be found from those times? Are there still markers created for planned but nonexistent crossroads to be found in the park? How have the animals lived before the zoo was constructed? Weather station, spies bench, remains of the old Croton Reservoir will tell us little known stories from the life of Central Park.

The route is about 2.5 miles long. Sometimes we will walk not on paths or trails but on stone and grass. We won’t go up a lot but expect some ascents. This is an adventure, almost like a hike, in the format of a tour.

This private tour takes about 2 hours and costs $250. Use calendar below to look for an available time and request a convenient slot. I will get back to you shortly with confirmation. Or just contact me.

Request a private tour below

  • You’ve danced salsa to his lines but did you know that the poet was a Cuban Revolutionary?
  • The Dairy really used to distribute fresh milk in Central Park but didn’t they need a cow?
  • The streets of Manhattan were planned in 1811 all the way up to 155th street but there was not supposed to be a Central Park; can we find traces of those streets and intersections still there?
  • Great sculptor John Q A Ward used principles of pseudosciences like Phrenology in his work, let’s compare two of his nearby sculptures: of Shakespeare and the Indian Hunter
  • Angel of the Waters on top of Bethesda Fountain was the first major city sculpture commissioned to a woman; could the angel be in the image of her wife?
  • The Bow Bridge is the longest and arguably the most romantic bridge in the park but it wasn’t supposed to exist, why was it built?
  • Belvedere Castle was supposed to be a decoration but was remade into a weather station a century ago, is it still used the same way today?
  • King Jagiello stopped the Teutonic order and created the mighty state of Rzeczpospolita but what is he doing in New York?
  • The oldest man made object on the streets of New York is this ancient egyption obelisk but why is it called Cleopatra’s Needle if it’s 1400 years older than her?

Interactive route map


Click/tap on the map to explore our route

Did you know?

Manhattan grid

Were there streets planned in place of the Park?

The Manhattan grid plan extended to 155th street and didn't include Central Park, so the future intersections were marked and markers had to be removed during park consturction.

Chess and Checkers

Can you play chess in the park?

In a place called Kinderberg or Children mountain you can borrow chess, checkers, board games and play for free inside or outside

Great Lawn

Have people really lived in Central Park?

There were whole villages here before the Park but even later in 1930s during the Depression people sometimes lived near and inside old drained reservoir, now the Great Lawn.

Other walking tours to consider

Any questions or comments?

Slava Shpigel photo

Slava Shpigel

Your guide

Licensed New York Guide, leading tours since 2012.

I have never appreciated history before I moved to New York in 2010. Maybe it was an immigrant thing – to study up on the new city and country – but it quickly fascinated me. Now 4 shelves of USA and New York history books and 10 years guiding experience behind me I more than ever want to share the stories I learned.