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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image The Public Realm Central Park
The Mall and the Castle
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Central Park
The Mall and the Castle
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There is one formal element in the park, and that is the element called the Mall, which is where people could come and promenade, and they could show off their finery, and other people could sit at benches and watch them under rows of beautiful elm trees, creating a spectacular canopy above.

And as you stood on the Mall and you looked north along the Mall your eye would stop at a mock medieval castle, known as the Belvedere, which stands at the top of a hill in the Ramble, the major forested area of the park.

This mock medieval castle was designed as a folly to draw your attention and to draw you down the Mall towards the Bethesda Terrace. The idea of creating a mock medieval castle as a focal point in a landscaped setting was something that was done in eighteenth-century picturesque gardens in England, and where mock medieval ruins and mock medieval castles would be constructed. And both Olmsted and Vaux were familiar with this eighteenth-century idea.

One of the most unfortunate things in Central Park in the early twenty-first century is that the trees in front of the Belvedere Castle have grown up so that you never can see this castle. So this very, very crucial element of the Central Park design, one of the most important vistas in any American park, is now hidden.


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