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The LakeThe Highlights
Created from a former swamp, the 20-acre Lake is the largest of Central Park's bodies of water.
Excavated, entirely by hand, Park designers Olmsted and Vaux created the Lake for boating in the summer and ice-skating in the winter. What is now a stunning and picturesque 18-acre lake was once nothing more than a large, primitive swamp. The Lake was opened for its first winter of ice-skating in 1858. Until 1950, the Lake was used for ice-skating during the winter months and boating in the summer. After 1950, however, the skating rink was officially closed, allowing the Lake's former wildlife residents to move back in. As a result, the Lake is now an excellent location for bird watching, where one can spot swans, ducks, and even the occasional egret or heron. The second largest man-made body of water in the Park, the Lake provides wonderful opportunities for viewing its abundant flora and fauna from rowboats, which are available for rent during the spring and summer months at the Loeb Boathouse. Aside from taking a boat, other options for viewing nature include taking a Venetian-style gondola ride around the Lake, or simply walking along the shore. The Lake is a sight not to be missed if you're in the mood for a calming boat ride through bamboo patches, bridges and the natural splendor of the Park.