Belvedere Castle

Project Progress

  • Design
  • Construction
  • Complete

Our restoration of the Belvedere will address the overall condition of its structures and terraces, modernize systems that support its preservation and use, and restore lost aspects of the historic design. A future phase of this project will include providing an accessible route to the Belvedere, one of the most heavily visited destinations in the Park.

For more than a century, the Belvedere (Italian for “beautiful view”) has provided visitors with some of the best views of Central Park. Calvert Vaux, co-designer of the Park, conceived the miniature castle in 1869 as a whimsical open-air structure and lookout tower. Situated atop Vista Rock, the Belvedere offered views of the old Croton reservoir (now the Great Lawn) to the north and the Ramble to the south. In 1919, it was enclosed with windows and doors to serve as a station of the U.S. Weather Bureau.

The weather station moved out of the facility in the early 1960s, and two decades of deterioration and vandalism followed. In 1983, the Conservancy renovated and reopened Belvedere Castle as a visitor center and gift shop. Deterioration in the thirty-five years since has been exacerbated by insufficient drainage, waterproofing, and climate control systems.

Plans are in development for a comprehensive core and shell restoration of the Belvedere, including the expansion and modernization of mechanical systems and supporting utilities.

The Conservancy’s proposed restoration of the Belvedere includes:

  • Cleaning and repointing the Belvedere’s exterior and interior masonry
  • Installing new drainage and waterproofing systems
  • Restoring the wood pavilions on the main plaza and upper terraces
  • Recreating a wood tower that was originally part of the large pavilion at the northwest corner
  • Replacing existing terrace pavements with bluestone pavers laid out according to the historic design
  • Replacing the existing windows and doors with clear pane, insulated glass to evoke the Belvedere’s original open-air design and control interior temperature and moisture
  • Repairing and replacing interior bluestone floors and ceilings
  • Modernizing mechanical systems and upgrading utility services
  • Upgrading interior and exterior lighting
Left to right: View from the old Reservoir c. 1880 (photo courtesy of Museum of the City of New York); Belvedere Castle’s west façade before restoration; rendering of Belvedere after restoration
  • Our Process

    Restoring Central Park is a collaborative effort. We work in partnership with historians, designers, planners, architects, and the public in order to preserve the Park’s original ideals while enhancing the experience for today’s visitors.

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