A Secret Map of Central Park?

Painting of Central Park dated 1863

A pictorial rendering of Central Park from the 1860s where you can see the Mall pointing toward Belvedere Castle in front of the Croton Reservoir

There may or may not be a secret map of Central Park. I will leave that up to your imagination.

What is clear is that Vaux designed the Mall to point in a straight line (due north, as a matter of fact), starting from the Olmsted Flower Bed and heading straight past the Bethesda Terrace, ending at Belvedere Castle.

This, of course, makes perfect sense as Olmsted would have wanted to highlight his beloved Ramble and Vaux would have enjoyed adding a point of architectural interest in the background. It all fits together very nicely.

The uncanny thing, however, is that you can also create two identical circles using the distance from the Olmsted Flower Bed to the Bethesda Terrace as the diameter of one and the distance from the terrace to the castle as the other, while having the circumferences of each pass through eight significant landmarks in the park.

Looking at the northern circle, for instance (running clockwise from the terrace), its circumference passes through Hernshead Promontory, Balcony Bridge, the Swedish Cottage, Belvedere Castle, the Still Hunt Statue, and the Loeb Boathouse, ending back at the terrace; while the circumference of the southern circle runs past the Pilgrim Statue, the 107th Infantry Regiment Memorial, the statue of Balto, the Olmsted Flower Bed, Literary Walk, the Dairy, the Carousel, the former Mineral Water Spa (now a food concession), and Cherry Hill, ending back at the terrace.

I found this to be more than a coincidence and wasn’t going to let it pass without making full use of it in my book; hence, the idea of creating a secret map, divided in two, each containing its own separate circle, and hidden in two separate apartments in the city.

If you’re still shaking your head and thinking, that’s all very well and good, but a number of the places you mentioned (such as the 107th Infantry Regiment Memorial and the statue of Balto) weren’t even conceived of during Olmsted and Vaux’s lifetimes, then, rather than try to explain, I invite you to read Central Park Story, Book Two and decide for yourself…

A map of Central Park dated 1870

…and a topographical map of the park (dated 1870) where you can see how deliberately the Mall was laid out with respect to the castle

 

 

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