65th Street to 72nd Street
Heading a bit farther north and west from the Central Park Zoo, you’ll come to Sheep Meadow, a huge expanse of lawn covered with thousands of semiclad sun-worshippers in warm weather. Real sheep grazed here until 1934. By then, the sheep were so inbred that many were malformed.
East of Sheep’s Meadow is the Mall, a promenade lined with trees and busts of famous men. This quarter-mile avenue of Central Park was once a parade ground for the elite, who cruised up and down in the late afternoons, courting and showing off their fancy carriages.
Today, the Mall is frequented by in-line skaters, sidewalk artists, skateboarders trying to perfect their tricks, couples taking advantage of the romantic atmosphere to sit on the benches for heartfelt chats, and retirees working on their New York Times Crosswords.
North of the Mall is the bandshell at Rumsey Playfield, where a first-rate series of free outdoor concerts is presented every summer by SummerStage (212/360-2777, www.summerstage.org). Past performers have ranged from blueswoman Ruth Brown to the Erick Hawkins Dance Company.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition