Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, Central Park (with Map & Photos)

Bethesda Terrace, considered the heart of Central Park and whose construction was planned since the park's inception.

Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace

When in 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, presented to the contest of ideas with their Greensward Plan, was already contemplating the creation of it.

Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace

Its function was to connect the area known as 'The Mall' with the lake, through an underground passage. In the same way, stairs on two levels allowed the creation of an upper promenade for the use of carriages and pedestrians. The park's designer architects named it “La Terraza del Agua”, due to its location next to the lake and the large fountain placed in its center.

Popularity and decline


Bethesda Terrace quickly became a popular picnic and stroll spot. At first by people from high society, but very soon also by other citizens.

During the 60s of the last century, this area was a meeting and meeting place for the large hippie community.

Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace

In the 1970s, the severe economic crisis in the city drastically reduced the budget for cleaning and maintenance for the park. This place, frequented by millions of tourists every year, became a point of sale and drug consumption.

Numerous citizen groups raised their voices in the face of this situation. One of these groups, the Central Park Community Fund, asked the city council to create an office to oversee the management of Central Park. In 1979, the then mayor, Ed Koch, opened the Central Park Management Office.

The following year, in 1980, the Central Park Conservancy was created, a private non-profit entity in charge of managing the park. This entity has a contract with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace Central Park

In the following years, an ambitious plan is carried out to renovate the park. Bethesda Terrace was the starting point. The fountain was restored and the balustrades that adorn the stairs recovered the elements that had been damaged as a result of vandalism. In the same way, the tiles that adorn the interior of the underground passage were cleaned and restored between 1987 and 2007.

Also the environment was renovated. Fifty new trees, 3,500 shrubs, and more than 3,000 plants native to the United States were planted.

Bethesda Terrace Map