A Walk Around the Central Park Reservoir

Walking around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the official name for the reservoir in Central Park that stretches from around 86th to 96th Streets, is not ideal for your typical city walker who prefers a stroll on the boulevards. Few architectural structures of note grace the path, and the main entertainment consists of trying not to become injured by fast runners. However bucolic, the reservoir is not a good place to walk the turtle.

This walk around the Reservoir begins on the east side near Museum Mile.

At the same time, walking around a large body of water in New York City's greatest park is not without charms. Views of the skyline from all direction, plenty of flora and fauna, access to charming cast-iron bridges, and overheard conversations may be counted among the attributes of a walk around the reservoir.

Walking north on the east side of the Reservoir.

On a recent impromptu walk following a visit to the Guggenheim, I found myself amused by an overheard conversation. Five or so people were out strolling behind me, and a man inquired of his company what might be the distance around the reservoir. When no one answered, he asked his friend, Siri, the woman who gives voice to the iPhone. Siri seemed to have a hard time with the question. She struggled, trying to buy time with that "Let me check on that" of hers. "Siri, what is the distance around the Central Park Reservoir?" She replied, and with gusto, "About 5,441 miles."

On the north side, the view to the south.

When I repeated the question on my phone just now, Siri also furnished the same impossible answer, even including a visual map showing a curved line that begins in New York City and ends in a remote location in South America.

Bridge No. 28, the "Gothic Gate."

Siri, it's not that long, even though it may feel like it. Let's go with "1.58 miles," the top result in Google.

Rounding the northwest banks of the Reservoir

While walking the 1.58-mile loop around the Stephanie and Fred Shuman Reservoir Running Track, as it is officially called, walkers and runners alike are directed to move in the same counter-clockwise direction. The photos shown here depict a walk that begins on the east side of the park near Museum Mile and completes the circle. In the distance, you can get a nice view of The Eldorado, one of the great NYC apartment buildings at 300 Central Park West.

View of the Upper East Side and the fountain

Other highlights of walking the reservoir include views of the skyline toward the south, including the impudent 1,396-foot tall stick of a building known as 432 Park Avenue. A prettier and closer view is of Bridge No. 28, the cast-iron "Gothic Bridge" on the north side of the reservoir. After walking around the North and South Gates, look for an assortment of waterbirds. The birds relish the presence of a pond bearing a billion gallons of water. From the west side, there's a good view of the east side but not in much detail. John Schlesinger's 1976 move, Marathon Man, includes a tense scene of the Dustin Hoffman character running around the north side of the reservoir.

The popular South Gate is within easy walking distance of several museums.

The fountain dates from 1917. Originally built to mark the completion of the Ashokan Reservoir in Catskill Park, the fountain was only intermittently turned on. Beginning in 2007 the fountain has been switched on every year until the winter. Built in 1862, the Central Park Reservoir was once called Lake Manahatta and functioned as a storage pool for the Croton water system. The cherry trees here are very nice in springtime.

Rounding the lap of the Central Park Reservoir

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from October 10, 2016. The sky was quite blue.

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