New York City's Central Park is famously ginormous. The park, which sprawls 843 acres and has a perimeter of 6 miles, is so expansive that it's easy for even a native New Yorker to get lost. But Central Park has a little-known secret, if you know where to look: its cast-iron lampposts can help you navigate the grounds. These 1,600 posts offer directional help in some quite sophisticated ways.
No Phone, No Problem
Central Park was the first urban landscaped public park in the United States, but its lampposts are another notable detail. Architect Henry Bacon designed these cast-iron lampposts in 1907 and included on them some sneaky tricks for finding your way around. Bacon put numbers at the base of each lamppost in the park. The first two or three numbers tell you the closest cross street. The last number at the base tells you which side of town you're closest to: if the number is odd, you're on the west side; and if it's even, you're on the east. Cool? Absolutely. Practical? Meh, only if your phone's about to die.
You Didn't Hear It From Us
The directional lampposts are just one of the hidden Easter eggs inside Central Park. If you think this place is just a park, someone has been lying to you. Sheep Meadow is an iconic preserve located inside the park, used for picnics, large gatherings, political demonstrations, and more. It got its name because, well, it's where sheep once actually roamed. (Good luck spotting sheep there today, though.) The Blockhouse is a Central Park treat that you can still see today. It was built as one of many fortifications during the war of 1812, and it is the last one still standing.
A more somber secret of the park lies in its history. When the park was built, it took over Seneca Village, a small, predominately African-American village of 200. The people were displaced as the park was built, but an archaeological dig in 2011 uncovered artifacts from the village you can still see today.