Frederick Law Olmsted | A Passion for Parks, National Geographic: Bethesda Terrace’s Grand Steps In Central Park

Woman walks down stone steps beside impressive, decorative carved railings.

Bethesda Terrace in New York City’s Central Park is an architectural marvel featuring two grand stone stairways that lead from the upper terrace down to the lake and fountain named ‘Angel of Waters.” Decorative elements carved into the stone represent nature and seasons and are symbolic of day and night.

In their master plan for Central Park, the 1858 “Greensward Plan,” Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux proposed an architectural “heart of the Park” defined by a sweeping promenade that would culminate into Bethesda Terrace. The entire terrace is constructed primarily of New Brunswick sandstone, paved with Roman brick, and boasts granite steps and landings.

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