I was born and raised in New York. Growing up I visited New York City many times. Now that I live a little over a half hour north of Manhattan my family and I visit New York City as often as we can. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been to the city. There are a lot of things to do in New York. Oddly enough I barely made my way into Central Park. The furthest I ventured into the park was to have lunch with my mom at Tavern on the Green.
All I know about Central Park comes from movies, television, books and online. If you have never been there before I can tell you that it’s HUGE. I didn’t realize just how big the park is. It doesn’t seem that big when you see aerial shots. I thought it was just a couple of miles long. I was wrong.
Here are some interesting facts about Central Park.
- Central Park is 843 acres which includes 136 acres of woodlands, 250 acres of lawns and 150 acres of water.
- Central Park has seven bodies of water.
- Central Park was the first public park built in America.
- Central Park is completely man made. It took 15 years and over $14 million (approx. $200 million in today’s economy) to build.
- There are 21 playgrounds located in the park.
- The Northern end of the park was the site of a series of fortifications for the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
The park is rich in history. I learned A LOT about it recently when my family and I took an On Location Tour of Central Park. On Location Tours offers several types of tours around New York City. Unlike typical “touristy” tours, On Location Tours highlights places were movies and TV shows were filmed. They offer both bus tours and walking tours (Central Park is the walking tour). I opted for the Central Park walking tour because I have never really ventured that much into the park and because I thought my kids might enjoy it more than the bus tour.
We had to meet our tour guide, Sammy (Sammie?) in front of the N,Q,R subway stairwell at the entrance of Central Park on 59th St between 5th and 6th Ave. We arrived a bit earlier just to be on the safe side.
My kids were concerned they might need to go to the bathroom while on the tour so they wanted to go before it started. I had downloaded the app Sit or Squat which is supposed to tell you where public bathrooms are located. The app is horrible! It told us to go to the Plaza Hotel to use the restroom. No way! They just don’t let people off the street use the facilities.
Thankfully the app told us there were restrooms at the Apple store across the street next to FAQ Schwartz. We ended up going there. Unbeknown to us at the the time there was a restroom break during the tour.
When we got back to where we were going to meet our guide we saw Sammy in her blue On Location Tour t-shirt. After we checked in with her we waited for the tour to begin.
Sammy started the tour on time. Thankfully there were not late arrivals. It was a very hot and humid day so we were anxious to get started.
I am grateful that Sammy took the heat into consideration. She made certain to stop at places that offered shade for all the tour guests and gave people a few minutes here and there to take pictures or relax for a few minutes in the shade on a bench.
Sammy took us to various locations around the park and pointed out areas where films and TV shows were filmed. I knew that many movies and TV shows were filmed in the park but I was very surprised to find out just how many. Central Park is one of the most popular destinations to film movies and TV shows.
She also carried around an iPad with her so she could show us images from the various movies and shows that were filmed in the park. It was great to have that added visual to our tour.
Here is just a small sampling of the locations we visited while on the tour.
The Bandshell – Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I’m Not Rappaport, Mighty Aphrodite, Hair, Gossip Girl.
The Boathouse Restaurant – When Harry Met Sally, Sex and the City, Little Manhattan, Enchanted, 27 Dresses, Manchurian Candidate, The Smurfs.
The Dairy – Independence Day, Enchanted
Duck Pond - Home Alone 2, The Devil Wears Prada, Jersey Girl, Enchanted, Gossip Girl, Definitely Maybe.
The Mall / Literary Walk – Serendipity, Vanilla Sky, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Maid in Manhattan, Big Daddy, Kramer vs. Kramer, Gossip Girl, The Happening, Enchanted, The Producers, Remember Me, The Smurfs, Glee, Friends with Benefits and a dozen or so other movies and TV shows.
Bethesda Terrace - Ransom, Godspell, Home Alone 2, Green Card, It Could Happen to You, Out of Towners, Stuart Little 2, Enchanted, Mr. Deeds, 27 Dresses, When in Rome and several other movies and shows.
Sammy showed us other locations and told us about the films and television shows that were filmed there.
We visited Wollman Skating Rink. Movies such as Serendipity, Home Alone 2, Stepmom, Love Story and Night at the Museum (to name a few) were shot there. During the summer months the skating rink is turned into an amusement park.
Here is a fun fact Sammy shared with us. Donald Trump revived the skating rink after several years ago and gave it back to the city of New York. In exchange he has banners advertising his business all around the rink and the water they sell at the rink and other locations in the park is called Trump Water, after “The Donald”. Donald Trump actually has done a lot of things around the park.
During the tour we stopped by Strawberry Fields. We learned that originally the city of New York didn’t want to dedicate a part of the park to such a controversial person like John Lennon. After his wife Yoko Ono offered a lot of her money to have the area dedicated to her late husband, and dozens of other countries donated funds too, the city finally gave in.
There is not much to see or do in Strawberry Fields. There is a nice piece of art built into the side walk. I was unable to get close enough to see it because it was too crowded.
Strawberry Fields is a place of reflection. They don’t allow picnicking, music or anything that might disturb others there. Strawberry Fields is also done in the shape of a tear drop.
Sammy also took us over to see The Dakota which is where John Lennon lived and died. She told us that Rosemary’s Baby and Vanilla Sky were filmed at The Dakota.
Throughout the tour Sammy shared interesting little tid bits with us about the movies and shows that were filmed in the park. She told us that while Mia Farrow was filming Rosemary’s Baby at The Dakota she received divorce papers from Frank Sinatra. She went a little “nutty” and cut her hair even shorter than it was in the film.
Our tour concluded near Tavern on the Green. Sadly the restaurant closed down a few years ago. Donald Trump is considering opening it up again. Since it’s a historic landmark he cannot change the name. I would love to see the restaurant open again. I went there once with my mother.
At one time Tavern on the Green was one of the best restaurants in the world. I believe Sammy said it made the second highest amount of money out of all the restaurants in the world. It makes you wonder how the restaurant eventually couldn’t afford to keep it’s doors open.
Tavern on the Green was originally the home of the man who tended to the sheep that used to reside in Central Park. At one time Sheep Meadow was actually home to sheep. Sheep Meadow is also the shooting location for movies like Wall Street, It Could Happen to You, The Fisher King, Enchanted, Hair, 13 Going on 30, Antz and Little Manhattan. When you see images of people sun bathing on a great lawn in Central Park that is actually called Sheep Meadow.
Over all the tour was fascinating. I learned a lot of cool facts and history about Central Park and I was fortunate to see places I have only seen in movies, on TV or in books.
Our tour guide Sammy was wonderful! She did an excellent job and was happy to answer any questions we had. She even offered to take photos of people so they could have group shots with their families and friends. I also appreciate that she made sure we had shade and places to sit down if needed.
There are several places on the tour to buy water, ice cream and other treats. That was helpful because when we went it was very hot and humid. I’m not exaggerating when I say my family of four went through about a dozen water bottles that day.
We did have a “rest stop” by Bethesda Terrace. There is another bathroom near the area of Columbus Circle just in case you need to use it. Your guide can point you in the right direction.
There is a lot of walking involved so be sure to wear comfortable shoes or sneakers. There were only a few steep hills. Most of the walking we did was pretty flat.
If you love New York and you love movies and entertainment then be sure to spend the afternoon taking the On Location Tour of Central Park. The tour is $22 per person and runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through November 30, 2012.
For information visit www.ScreenTours.com.
On Location Tours also offers bus tours of favorite “hot spots” including Sex and the City and the Sopranos. They have tours in both New York City and Boston. They even have special package deals with include other fun NYC destinations including NBC Studio, CBS Morning Show, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and more.
A very special thank you to our guide Sammy (Sammie?) for a fabulous tour! !
*I received a free tour for me and my family, compliments of On Location Tours, in order to facilitate this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are entirely my own and are not influenced in any way.