The Harlem Meer is a picturesque artificial lake at the northeastern corner of Central Park.
I enjoy this small lake, lined with benches, in all seasons.
This artificial lake was constructed with the creation of Central Park, on what used to be a tidal marsh fed by a creek that led into the Harlem River. The name itself recalls the city’s Dutch heritage, with Meer meaning sea, and the neighborhood of Harlem, starting just beyond the lake, named after the Dutch city of Haarlem.
Those marshy areas were transformed, but the Harlem Meer does attract birds and some wildlife, and it has a popular catch and release program that keeps kids (and kids at heart) testing out their fishing skills in an urban environment. The lake hosts a small Central Park Visitor’s Center where you can also sign up for the popular catch and release program – all run by the Central Park Conservancy.
This area of the park was in decided decline in the 1970s and 1980s, but was beautified in the 1990s. It is also close to the spectacular North Woods and the Lasker Pool that serves as a (free) swimming pool in summer and a skating rink in winter.
I often stop off here to read or to have a picnic lunch with my kids.
And when I’ve been exhausted from a Central Park jog, this has been a good spot to walk along the banks of the lake to catch my breath.
Most Central Park visitors stick to the lowest segment of the park, bordering with 60th Street, but I highly recommend venturing up another fifty blocks and exploring all of “New York’s backyard”, and the northern section of the park and its Harlem Meer is definitely worth a pleasant afternoon stroll.
See you on the shores of the Harlem Meer.