79th Street to 97th Street
North of the Ramble reigns the Gothic Revival Belvedere Castle, designed in 1858 by Calvert Vaux. Situated atop Vista Rock, one of Central Park’s highest spots, the castle offers bird’s-eye views. Downstairs is the Henry Luce Nature Observatory at Belvedere Castle (Mid-Park at 79th Street, 212/772-0210, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat., free admission).
Near the castle is the Shakespeare Garden, filled with plants and flowers mentioned in the playwright’s work, Swedish Cottage with Marionette Theatre and the Delacorte Theater, where a free New York Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park (212/539-8750 or 212/539-8500) is produced every summer. Two plays are usually featured, each running about a month. The free tickets for each day’s show are handed out beginning at 6:15 p.m. the same day; people start lining up in the early afternoon.
Abutting the Delacorte Theater is the often dusty Great Lawn. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers spread out their blankets and picnic baskets on the lawn when the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Company perform here.
North of the Great Lawn is Central Park Reservoir, now known as Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir because the former first lady used to jog around its 1.58-mile perimeter. This is New York City’s most popular jogging course; the reservoir holds about a billion gallons of water, most of which comes via aqueduct from the Catskills.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition