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A Local’s Guide to Central Park The Mall & Literary Walk

A Local’s Guide to Central Park The Mall & Literary Walk

The Mall & Literary Walk of Central Park stands as one of the most historic and visited parts of the 843-acre park. The Mall is a promenade in the southern end of the park that spans a bit over 1,500 feet ending at the famous Bethesda Terrace.

On either side of this wide pathway you will find American Elm trees that line its pathway along with 6 statues of historical figures.

This guide will give an overview of the Central Park Mall and how to go about your visit to one of the park’s top locations.

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1) Central Park Mall History

» The Mall is one of the original designs that Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (the park’s architects) built for the park. At the time it was also one of the only straight pathways in the park.

» The pathway is a bit over 1,500 feet of length, and connects the Olmsted Flower Bed in the south to the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain area in the north.

» Back in the day, it’s 40-foot-wide pathway was a hot spot to find wealthy local elite walking its pathways enjoying the surrounding nature.

Horse carriages would drop off these wealthy elite at the southern end of The Mall, so they could walk its pathways on their own before the carriages picked them up by the Bethesda area.

» The plans also called for a canopy of tree branches to overhang over the pathway. The American Elm was the tree of choice here although it did take a couple of plantings to get to the trees that you see today.

» At the southern end of the Mall you will find 6 statues that make up the Literary Walk.

These statues include William Shakespeare, Fitz Green Halleck, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Christopher Columbus and the newest addition – the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony Suffrage Movement Monument.

» Today you will find hundreds of people, performers, and artists all throughout The Mall’s promenade. It is one of the most happening places to visit and makes for a beautiful addition to any day in Central Park.

→ Visit the Central Park Mall as part of a longer 4 days in NYC itinerary that takes you throughout the city

The Mall Central Park Foliage

2) Central Park Mall Map & Directions

The Mall is located within the southern section of the park from 66th Street to 72nd Street. Getting here though will depend on where in the park you are coming from prior.

To make things easy, I would recommend starting on the main loop of Central Park before getting off the main pathway to The Mall. On the map below you can see the directions to get you to the southern end of The Mall.

You can start at the Central Park entrance on Central Park South and 7th Avenue, make a right turn onto the main loop, and then follow the loop for about 10 minutes.

Soon after the loop begins to curve to the right (East direction), The Mall will be directly to your left.

You should be able to see the tree lined pathway and the statues from the loop so keep your eyes out for it! You then can simply get off the main loop, and you will then be right at the very southern end of The Mall.

3) Where to Stay in NYC

There are so many different neighborhoods to choose from when visiting Manhattan. Below are some of my top choices for a few of my recommended locations in the city:

Chelsea: If you are looking to be well situated between uptown, midtown, and downtown, then Chelsea can be a great option for you. You have highlights such as the High Line, Little Island, the Vessel, and the Hudson River right nearby.

And if you are looking to head to Central Park uptown or the World Trade Center area further downtown, then you are just a quick subway ride away. Recommended Chelsea hotels:

Cambria Hotel | Hyatt House | Moxy NYC

Midtown: Right in the middle of the action is the midtown area, where you have the one and only Times Square, and all Broadway shows right at your doorstep.

You are also within walking distance to the southern end of Central Park. Almost all subway lines connect at Times Square so getting around should not be an issue. Recommended Midtown hotels:

LUMA Hotel | citizenM Hotel | Aliz Hotel

Tribeca: If you are trying to stay in downtown Manhattan, then I would recommend looking into the Tribeca area. Staying here and you will be just a stone’s throw away from the World Trade Center area, 9/11 Memorial Pools & Museum, and the hop on point for the Statue of Liberty. You will also be able to be walking distance from the start of the Brooklyn Bridge walkway.

While Central Park is a bit further away, you should still be able to reach it in about 30 minutes by subway. Recommended Tribeca Hotels:

The Roxy Hotel | Sheraton Tribeca | Four Seasons Hotel

» Check out this helpful guide that talks all about the best areas to stay in New York during a visit

Moxy Hotel NYC

4) Visiting the Central Park Mall & Literary Walk

Once you make your way to the southern part of The Mall, it is time to make your way along the tree lined pathway northbound.

At the most southern part of The Mall you will find the first two statues of the walk – Christopher Columbus and William Shakespeare on either side of the flower bed.

On the other side of the flower bed you will get a picture-perfect view of the entirety of the Mall. With the overarching American Elms on either side, it is quite the NYC photo spot to enjoy between continuing onwards.

Here you will also find the next two statues – Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott right across from one another.

The Mall and Literary Walk

As you walk along you are sure to come across plenty of benches on either side of the pathway along with a whole variety of entertainment. Whether it be musical artists, photographers, or painters, there will be plenty of that and more.

The final two statues on the Literary Walk portion of The Mall will be that of Fitz Green Halleck, and the new Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony Suffrage Movement Monument.

Central Park Foliage Mall
The Mall Central Park Benches
Womens Right Pioneers Central Park

There is also the option here to get off the main pathway here as you have perpendicular pathways cutting through The Mall if you want to switch things up a bit.

These pathways offer great views of the American Elm trees and give you some additional angles to enjoy off the main path.

The Mall Central Park Lamps

As you continue through The Mall though, it will be more of the same beautiful views as you begin to see the end of the pathway out in the distance.

Towards the northern end of The Mall, the pavement will end and the ground will turn into a tiled brick for the remainder of the walk to the Bethesda area.

Central Park Mall Fall
Autumn in Central Park

The surroundings open up a bit more here as you are not only confined to the pathway but a much larger plaza area in front of the Naumburg Bandshell.

The Bandshell has hosted hundreds of concerts through the years and you may still find some performers singing or dancing nearby.

Just past the Bandshell you will reach the end of The Mall by the Bethesda Terrace area. You have the option of heading down the stairs and through the Bethesda Arcade, or you can head around the outer staircase down into the fountain area.

Bethesda Terrace Arcade

For those photographers out there, I have to note that The Mall is one of the busiest photo spots of Central Park. Due to this, it will be quite hard to get any photos without the crowds.

The only way to really get an empty Mall, would be to go there at sunrise or late at night if you want some night shots.

Sunrise though offers the best chance to have a relatively empty pathway but there may always be those early morning runners and dog walkers making their way through.

The Mall Central Park Sunrise

5) The Mall Central Park in Fall

Having visited The Mall in every season, I have to say that my favorite time of year is in the Fall during peak Central Park foliage. When the American Elm trees are at their peak, the leaves all turn yellow making the landscape that much more beautiful to take in (although a Central Park snow is also a great time to visit).

The tough thing about photographing (or just enjoying) The Mall at its peak foliage, is that it does not last too long. We are talking about a week or so between mostly all the leaves turning yellow to when they start falling off.

Even if you do not visit at the peak foliage time, you can still enjoy a good mix of the green and yellow leaves. I would just avoid waiting too long, as once the leaves begin to fall off, you won’t be left with much.

As you can see in this guide, many of the photos are taken during peak Fall foliage. Below are some additional pictures I was able to take looking in the southbound direction.

Literary Walk Central Park
Central Park Mall Walk
Central Park Mall Walking

6) What to Visit After

Once you are all finished with The Mall and Literary Walk, there are countless of places to visit in the park after. Below are some of my recommendations that are within the vicinity of the area:

The Bow Bridge: the most famous of bridges within the park is just a few minute walk from the Bethesda Terrace. You can get some great views of the bridge from all different angles around the lake.

» Learn more about the bridge in the Central Park Bow Bridge guide up on the site

The Lake & Loeb Boathouse: if you are looking to head onto the Lake itself, you can make your way to the Loeb Boathouse nearby. Here you can rent a row boat to take onto the Lake for a little bit of exploring.

» Learn more in the Central Park Lake guide up on the site

The Ramble: right on the other side of the Bow Bridge you can find The Ramble. This is one of the woodland areas of the park with a never ending amount of trails to get enjoy. It is a confusing part of the park with these winding trails so I wouldn’t be surprised if you got a little lost in there.

» Learn more about the woodlands in the the Central Park Ramble guide up on the site

Belvedere Castle: just north of the Ramble is the Belvedere Castle. This is the highest point of Central Park and from up top you will certainly get some nice views of the surrounding landscape. You can even head up the stairs of the castle to take in the views from above.

There is plenty more to see and do in the park that will keep you busy. Take a look at this guide to the Top 15 Things to Do in Central Park to learn more!

Belvedere Castle NYC

7) Your Questions Answered

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Central Park Mall and Literary Walk. If you have any more questions, feel free to add them in at the end of the article.

Why is it Called the Mall in Central Park?

In general, and not only specific to Central Park, a Mall is known as a tree lined park where people go to stroll and meet others. That is exactly what is happening in the Mall of Central Park. You have a wide pathway surrounded by American Elms, where locals go to meet others and socialize.

So, before shopping malls were the main places that people referred malls to, it had a bit of a different meaning.

What Trees Line the Mall in Central Park?

American Elm trees line the Mall in Central Park. When these trees were first planted in the park, they did not even survive one year (besides a couple of them).

The second go around also did not survive long due to signs of decay. It was then in the 1920’s that the trees you see today were planted. 

What Statues are in the Literary Walk in Central Park?

There are 6 statues that are in the Literary Walk in Central Park. Most of these are authors but there have been a couple additions through the years.

These statues include William Shakespeare, Fitz Green Halleck, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Christopher Columbus and the newest addition – the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony Suffrage Movement Monument.

How Long is the Literary Walk?

The Literary Walk is about 0.3 miles or a bit over 1,500 feet. The walk along The Mall spans 6 blocks from 66th Street to 72nd Street.

The walk can take as little as 5 minutes but you can spend plenty of time walking the pathways, taking a seat on the benches, and enjoying the surroundings.

The Mall at Central Park

That about wrap up a guide to The Mall & Literary Walk of Central Park. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in below. Also don’t forget to check out the other New York itineraries and guides up on the site.

Have fun out there and safe travels!

Central Park NYC Mall

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