Lonely Planet Writer

Secret corner of New York's Central Park to reopen to visitors after 82 years

New York has kept a secret from its citizens and visitors for decades – a four-acre site in the city’s Central Park.

New York City skyline from Central Park.
New York City skyline from Central Park. Image by cityscape_nyc

The peninsula has been fenced off to the general public from the time Franklin D Roosevelt was president in the 1930s.

From next month its gates are to be reopened three days a week in the afternoon and for an extra day from July to the end of August.

Central Park, New York City.
Central Park will open up the 4-acre peninsula of secret land from next month Image by m01229 / CC BY 2.0

The New York Times reports that the opening has come about following work carried out on the neglected area under the Central Park Conservancy’s Woodland Initiative.

As part of the US$40 million project, areas of the 843-acre iconic tourists attraction, including the 4-acres peninsula, were earmarked for major improvements.

Despite being renamed 30 years ago as the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, it was kept fenced off. This was due to the fact the Conservancy prioritised other parts.

While it is still out of bounds, it now has new pathways laid and a new gate.

Douglas Blonsky, the park’s administrator said it originally had been closed off so that it could become a bird sanctuary.

That was the vision of the then commissioner, Robert Moses, in 1934.

The sanctuary did indeed become a stop-off for birds going north at springtime and south later in the year. However the plants and trees put in were of the wrong variety. One in particular, Wisteria, proved to be a huge problem as it strangled everything around it. The sanctuary was covered in this plant and some roots remain.

Blonsky said some root systems remain in rock creases even though staff had tried to pull them out.

Work began to clear the 4-acre corner about 15 years ago. Irrigation lines were put in so the area could be watered regularly.