The 1858 landmark Belvedere Castle re-opens on Friday, June 28, 2019, after a $12 Million dollar restoration that took more than one year.
The castle was conceived by Central Park designer Calvert Vaux as a fanciful scenic lookout atop one of the highest points in the park, Vista Rock.
Named for the Italian meaning “beautiful view,” Central Park’s Belvedere Castle offers park goers exactly that – beautiful views.
From its balconies, it supplies wonderful panoramic views that include several Central Park’s most beautiful and famous landmarks, including the Delacorte Theater, home of Shakespeare in the Park, the Great Lawn, the Turtle Pond and the Ramble.
With its strong stone façade, grand turret and flag, the castle has always been a stunning attraction in Central Park.
The restoration included installing a new zero-emission geothermal system for heating and cooling, upgrading the mechanical and utility systems, restoring and waterproofing the structure including terraces, and installing a new drainage system.
Recently, Belvedere Castle has been used as a visitors center. But before that, starting in 1919, the National Weather Service began taking measurements from the castle’s tower with scientific instruments that determine wind speed and direction.
Additionally, just south of the castle, other data such as the rainfall was recorded and sent to the weather service’s forecast office at Brookhaven National Library on Long Island. Belvedere Castle is still used for this purpose today.
Over the decades the castle suffered from deterioration and in 1983, the Central Park Conservancy renovated and reopened the structure, which now also serves as the Henry Luce Nature Observatory.
Inside, visitors will discover a vast collection of natural history artifacts, such as skeletons and paper mâché birds.
There are also microscopes and telescopes on the premise to give guests insight into how naturalists study the world.
Those who want to explore Central Park from a scientific standpoint can use the castle’s field packs that contain binoculars, reference materials, maps and a notepad to jot down observations.
Finally, for birdwatchers, the castle is an ideal location to catch a glimpse of a hawk, kestrel or osprey.
Throughout the year, various free family and community programs are hosted at Belvedere Castle, including “On A Wing” birding events, astronomy talks, storytelling, and even a haunted castle event every Halloween.
Check the Central Park Event Calendar for additional information on activities.
Welcome back, Belvedere Castle.
NYCOTC Editor Evelyn Kanter is a native New Yorker who has written for the NY Times, NY Daily News, NY Post, New York Magazine, and is a former on-air reporter for WCBS Newsradio 88 and WABC-TV Eyewitness News.
Evelyn Kanter also is the author of several NYC and Hudson Valley guidebooks, including my latest, 100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die.
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