Designers: Calvert Vaux 1824-1895 &
Jacob Wrey Mould 1825-1886 • England
Outstanding in every way, Bethesda Terrace is the architectural achievement that defines the heart of Central Park as it seamlessly joins the Mall with a Terrace overlooking theLake and the wooded Ramble beyond.
It is built of New Brunswick sandstone in a mixture of styles, Romanesque, Gothic and Classical with decorative elements designed by Mould. His amazingly intricate sandstone carvings reflect upon nature’s significance, as it features birds and seasonal plants that appear along the stairways and also on the terrace’s main posts.
This magnificent split-level Terrace creates a heavenly atmosphere with its upper terrace and grand stairways on either side topped with flower filled stone vases that descend to the grand walkway below.
Many visitors stand on the Upper Terrace and gaze out toward the famous Bethesda Fountain at its center while the Lake and the shoreline of the Ramble are in clear view beyond the Terrace edge some distance away. As you descend the stairways, you can sit on stone benches built into the lawn’s Terrace walls and watch the tranquil drama of people rowing, a wedding unfold or visitors taking photos from every conceivable location.
On a fine weather day, musicians, actors or dancers can usually be found performing to a diverse and captive audience. At the Terrace shoreline there are several curved steps that actually lead into the water.
At one time, this location was a boarding spot providing people a way of entering or exiting from passenger guided boats that sailed across the Lake.
At the southern approach to the Terrace Bridge from the Mall a visitor will see the seven arches of the Arcade, a columned passageway with walls on either side forming a blind arcade adorned with trompe l’oeil paintings. The large ceiling, which is part of the original design of Central Park, was first installed in 1867 and originally contained 16,000 brilliant encaustic tiles, weighing about 50 tons and handcrafted in Stoke-on-Trent, England.
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