Completed in 1876, smack in the middle of Manhattan, Central Park extends from 59th to 110th streets, and provides residents (and street-weary visitors) with a much-needed refuge from big-city life. The poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant had the idea for an open public space in 1844 and spent seven years trying to persuade City Hall to carry it out. Eventually, 840 desolate and swampy acres north of the city limits were set aside. The two architects commissioned, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, planned a complete illusion of the countryside in the heart of Manhattan – which was already growing at a fantastic rate. Even today, the sense of captured nature survives.

It’s easy to get around on foot, along the many paths that crisscross the park. There’s little chance of getting lost, but to know exactly where you are, find the nearest lamppost: the first two figures signify the number of the nearest street. After dark, however, you’d be well advised not to enter on foot.

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