The Mall

The Mall leads from the East Drive park entrance to Bethesda Terrace. When Central Park was first built, the main entrance to the park was at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue and The Mall was intended as the park's primary social space - a broad, straight, tree-lined promenade that contrasted with the park's picturesque winding paths.

Although park architects Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) and Calvert Vaux (1824-1895) initially wanted to keep the park free from "artificial objects", New Yorkers had a different idea of what their park should be. William Shakespeare by John Quincy Adams Ward (1830 - 1910), was erected at the southern end of the Mall in 1870. Other writers soon joined Shakespeare, turning the southern end of the Mall into Literary Walk. In 1872, an organization of Scottish-Americans installed a seated bronze of novelist Walter Scott (1771-1832) by John Steell (1804-1891). In 1880 they placed a broze figure of poet Robert Burns (also by Steell) opposite Scott. In 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes unveiled James Alexander MacDonald's statue of Fitz-Greene Halleck, (1780-1872) a poet, literary critic and social commentator of considerable fame in his time who is largely forgotten today.

At the north end of the Mall, Olmstead and Vaux placed a cast-iron bandstand and patrons sat in the shade of the trees or on the eastern slope of the wisteria pergola (currently the Rumsey Playfield) for popular outdoor concerts. In 1923, the current neoclassical Naumburg Bandshell was built on the pergola (opposite of where the original bandshell stood) for the Goldman Band. Although the bandshell has been restored and maintained, it is generally inadequate for contempory performance practice and is rarely used.

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